Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Hip-hop values become the mainstream. Even in the White House.
DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO. Here's the latest from one of the leading liberal arbiters of race relations in the United States, Salon Magazine:
First lady got back
I'm a black woman who never thought I'd see a powerful, beautiful female with a body like mine in the White House. Then I saw Michelle Obama -- and her booty!
By Erin Aubry Kaplan
Nov. 18, 2008 | Free at last. I never thought that I -- a black girl who came of age in the utterly anticlimactic aftermath of the civil rights movement -- would say the phrase with any real sincerity in my lifetime. But ever since Nov. 4, I've been shouting it from every rooftop. I'm not excited for the most obvious reason. Yes, Obama's win was an extraordinary breakthrough and a huge relief, but I don't subscribe to the notion that his capturing the White House represents the end of American racial history. Far from it. There is a certain freedom in the moment -- as in, we are all now free from wondering when or if we'll ever get a black president. Congratulations to all of us for being around to settle the question.
But what really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has coruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)
What a bonus! From the ocean of nastiness and confusion that defined this campaign from the beginning, Michelle rose up like Venus on the waves, keeping her coif above water and cruising the coattails of history to present us with a brand-new beauty norm before we knew it was even happening.
Actually, it took me and a lot of other similarly configured black women by surprise. So anxious and indignant were we about Michelle getting attacked for saying anything about America that conservatives could turn into mud, we hardly looked south of her neck. I noted her business suits and the fact she hardly ever wore pants (unlike Hillary). As I gradually relaxed, as Michelle strode onto more stages and people started focusing on her clothes and presence instead of her patriotism, it dawned on me -- good God, she has a butt! "Obama's baby (mama) got back," wrote one feminist blogger. "OMG, her butt is humongous!" went a typical comment on one African-American online forum, and while it isn't humongous, per se, it is a solid, round, black, class-A boo-tay. Try as Michelle might to cover it with those Mamie Eisenhower skirts and sheath dresses meant to reassure mainstream voters, the butt would not be denied.
Well, it goes on like that. Yeah, I know. it's not racist when black people say it or write it. What about the rest of us? Are white males allowed to drool over and write odes about the gigantic ass of the First Lady of the United States? I doubt it. Frankly, I don't think anyone who presumes to be a respectable opinionmaker should be writing this way. Not even Peggy Noonan or Ann Coulter ever wrote an essay about what nice tits Laura Bush has. The operative rule is decorum. Or is this article a signal that decorum is one of those rotten old conservative values that will be discarded in the brave new world of African-American "rule"?
Probably not. I think it's rather a kind of trap. The anointed ones are allowed to talk this way, but woe betide those who are seduced into following their lead. Any white man who slobbers over the First Lady's butt the way Erin Aubry Kaplan does will instantly be condemned as a white trash slavemaster straight out of a William Faulkner novel. It will be seen as a kind of rape. We're supposed to admire the great First Butt, mind, but strictly in silence. And if any of us should happen to think the First Butt is a mite too big, then we will be tarred as racists.
Yes, we've entered the age of butt politics. Snoop Dogg and Kanye West will probably write million-selling raps about the celestial booty of Michelle Obama. If Toby Keith writes a song about it, he'll wind up in a holding cell in whatever comes to replace Guantanamo. It's part of the change we were promised. Did we mention that not all change is good change?
I think we did.