The Development of Political Controversy

 

 During an election year, a potential candidate’s perceived flaws and strengths are put on display for all to see. The public scrutiny is not limited to the candidate alone, but is broadened to include the people closest to the contenders. It reinforces the meaning of the old proverb, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together.”

 

 Throughout this long election campaign, many are interested in the types of birds that flock with our candidates. Hilary is constantly haunted by the professional and personal misdeeds of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, while Barack was called to justify his friendship and respect for militant preacher Jeremiah Wright until that very friendship was fractured under the pressure.

 

 The search for controversy has no statute of limitations as even the bachelor’s thesis of Michelle Obama, which examines the changing attitudes of middle and upper class blacks in Ivy League white academia toward lower class blacks and the black community during various stages of academic attendance, was a target for ridicule and judgment. Understanding the political climate and the inevitable existence of dirt digging and mud slinging, Michelle attempted to reduce the potential impact of her racial research from 23 years ago. It is not unreasonable to investigate to whom the presidential candidates are coupled and Michelle knew her words could have an impact on her husband’s campaign. It is an example of another old saying, “you are  judged by the company you keep”. As a result, it has been reported that she requested her thesis be removed from the Princeton library until after the election in November 2008.

 

 In a respected move, the Obama campaign quickly released the thesis upon request of media outlets. Some judged this act as Obama’s attempt to capitalize on the the controversy surrounding the dated words of his wife, the very words she was trying to keep private for the benefit of his campaign.   

 

 Upon reading her thesis firsthand, I had trouble detecting the controversy. It became apparent that the point of contention rested in what the thesis might say instead of what it actually said, which explains why the Obama campaign released it. The speculation is always worse than the reality. Once it was made available, some of the silliest remarks were made regarding its validity and its ability to convey Michelle’s findings. I read comments like, “well there are no white history classes” and “that thesis was full of grammatical errors”.  I found humor in these meaningless judgments. My first thought was, there’s no white history classes because nearly all history is white history. It makes sense that at a predominantly white academic institution of the 1980s the majority of classes, clubs, and activities would spotlight white culture, placing all other cultures in the dark.

 

 What Michelle’s thesis really focused on is the attitudes of middle class and upper middle class blacks toward the black community and the white community prior to, during and after attending a predominantly white affluent Ivy League institution like Princeton. The sample was compiled of 400 names of black Princeton alumni collected by choosing every fourth name in a list of 1200 obtained from Princeton’s Alumni office. A survey of 18 questions yielded a 22% response rate or 89 respondents, which consisted of 60% males and 40% females. Ms. Obama delved into the lifestyles and the perceptions of these undergraduate alumni, considering their dating and religious practices, their friendships, as well as their comfort level with whites and other blacks. Their economic and educational backgrounds prior to admission to Princeton was also considered. She wanted to discover the following:

·  Attitudes of black undergraduate alumni and the intentions between blacks and whites.

·  The Ivy League Black’s feeling of obligation to help lower class blacks

·  Interaction with white students on campus

·  How experience at Princeton changed personal values

·  How the obligation to give back to the black community was affected by social practices while attending Princeton 

 Her research revealed that a black alumni’s loyalty to the black community had a lot to do with whether integration and assimilation took place while attending Princeton. Those from lower class families and neighborhoods felt more comfortable with other blacks and were more likely to participate in separatism, thereby not interacting with whites by choice. As far as giving back to the black community, Michelle determined that benefiting a given group had a lot to do with the time invested in getting to know that group. Those who integrated and assimilated into white culture were more likely to give back to the community of whites and blacks as a whole rather than focus on black society specifically.

Other theories such as the need to band together within the black culture before integrating into white society were discussed. In the introduction, Michelle wrote about her experience as being on the fringes of Princeton academic society but not being welcomed to embrace it. 

This study analyzed the affects of the white upper middle class academic experience on blacks and how that experience shaped their evolving views of black culture, the black community and their obligation to contribute to that facet of society during various stages of the academic experience. In the end, Ms. Obama had to derive several new hypothesis models that spoke to the general social climate between blacks and whites which were in effect regardless of economic class.

Finally, social research studies such as this are designed to encourage analysis of society, it’s effectiveness and one’s place in the evolving entity that is our environment. As with any research study, Ms. Obama posed a question that spoke to her own experiences and curiosities while attending a upper middle class Ivy League school as a black woman in the 1980’s and determined based on the responses that her hypothesis had to be adjusted as the outcome was not solely based on each person’s social history or economic status. In fact, Michele Obama’s thesis and the social scrutiny of the presidential candidates demonstrates how a person’s character and value go beyond those in their current inner circle by taking into account their past and present social environments.

Cultural loyalty is affected by the overall social climate of the period. Much is the same in our current political climate, as each candidate’s potential to successfully carry the presidency must be analyzed by their intelligence, a commitment to their values and their ability to convey and personify a sincere message of hope for all those involved both within the United States and around the world.

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Reference:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/02/23/michelle-obamas-princeton-thesis-reveals-doubts-about-her-own-integration/

 

 

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Power in the Stance

I’ve been in my own world for the past few weeks while I edit my contracted novel and lay the foundation for my next work. In my short 33 years, I have never been known to take the easy road and the focus on igniting my literary career is no exception.

I write Multicultural Interracial Romance.

I’ll say it again….

I write Multicultural Interracial Romance.

I write about a society where people of differing cultures, races, religions and orientations positively interact with one another and in many cases fall in love.

I knew when I joined a couple of mainstream national writers’ groups and their local chapters that while I would be embraced for my passion of writing itself, they may not understand my chosen topic. So for a while I wrote in a vacuum, not sharing my work just calling it chicklit because of my knack for sarcasm and humor. But my work is much broader than a female coming of age story. My work is about families, friends, lovers, and society coming of age. 

I emerged from my self-imposed coccoon to discover, on the first day of Black History month (gotta love the irony), that the possibility that we are evolving to a true melting pot of cultures in the publishing industry is not nearly as evident as first perceived. Yes, we are in the bookstores, but we still fight for shelf space and appropriate categorization.

While the list of African American, Gay/Lesbian, and Multicultural/Interracial romance titles are growing, there are still many agents, publishers and the like, who refuse to acknowledge the growing demand for this literature. Middle class Caucasians are not the only market for literature, and literature based on the white middle class does not speak to everyone. Why is it that we as people of color are expected to read and enjoy literature based on the white experience, while accepting the lie that our experience holds no interest for anyone? The answer isn’t to be prejudice against the white experience, but for everyone to equally value all cultural experiences.  

Well, this post is the result of an uproar regarding the 2007 Best Book of the Year contest posted by Ecataromance. A very active multicultural/interracial group of writers and readers discovered that two of their own published members were among the nominees. They were both writers of interracial romance. Not only were they nominated, but they were in the number one and number two spots for their categories. The group urged it’s members to visit the ecataromance site and place their votes for Aliyah Burke & Shara Azod.

Then suddenly the voting was halted and the poll was replaced with a new poll minus these author’s books.

http://readerslounge.catanetwork.com/?page_id=305 

The only explanation was that some books were miscategorized and the organizer wanted to ensure that all books nominated were correctly categorized. As a result, the new poll was re-posted and the voting deadline was extended. Why hadn’t this due dilligence been exhausted prior to the initial release of the poll? And why did recategorization constitute removing the works of the interracial authors?

After the ever- growing multicultural audience expressed their disgust via blogs and chatrooms and a barrage of questions from publishers of multicultural and interracial romance flooded the ecataromance webmistress’ in-box, the poll was restored and the original deadline upheld.

http://www.ecataromance.com/index.php?page_id=323

In the end, Azod came in first place in all three of her categories and Burke took second place in hers. Now we are left to wonder what the end result would have been had this poll genuinely ended on it’s own natural volition.

Nevertheless, this is a prime lesson for the power of standing firm in what you believe. We may not be fighting lynchings, church burnings, fire hose assaults, and police baton beatings, but we are still striving to maintain every inch of progress those we honor this month have acquired for us.

What Ever Happened To Black Love? (Column: Motivation Extends My Soul)

 

I can remember the time, I can see it, the love we shared

Pickin’ up that cotton together, chained together, bound in true holiness together,
On our hands and knees we were on the ground praying to GOD together
Even looking in your eyes while we were hung together
It was strong
It was based off the struggles we’ve dealt with
It was based off the honor we gave
It was true, it was real, it was down to earth, and it was deep
Couldn’t any man break that bond- It was tight and it was right

What ever happened to Black Love?
What is Black Love?
When I stand by your side, when the world is trying to destroy you undercover
I am your best friend and I am your lover

When I give birth to your children, so that they may represent who you stand for as Black Man and who I stand for as a Black Woman, and have meaning on this earth
So I may know you are down for me, and that I am down for you all the way
My Black beauty is what you are attracted to and love
You are my Black King and I am your Black Queen,
So let’s go raise our Black prince and princess into the same,
Baby we ain’t got no shame in this Black love game

What ever happened to Black Love?
It’s like, non-existent sometimes, it’s like scarce, it’s like, he just my baby daddy or, she just my baby mama,
Its like, you embarrassed to tell your boys you in love with this Black woman, you’d rather say, she just my friend, nothing more.
You telling everybody, even your own mind that you don’t want nothing more from that Black woman
But ain’t that kind of strange, when all she will do is love you and use her own strength to pick you up, when she see you slippin’ and expect nothing less from you
She will stand by your side till death,
And you don’t want that?
Black man why you embarrassed to be in Love???????
Why?  You think being a real man doesn’t involve being in love or showing your love?
So that you see my Black face, and have misconceptions mixed in with your made up annotations that Black women are this or that, mama dramas, and round about attitudes

What ever happen to Black Love?
When the respect that is lost and thrown out the window for this Black woman or Black man
When the prejudging of a Black Man is not only being degraded by the White Man, but also by his own Black sister too
And the Black Man is saying: Black Woman don’t hate on me, when I already got the White man and sometimes the other Black men hating on me too
And Black Women, he’s absolutely right….

Love sees no color; I would have to agree with that
But it’s not stupid either, and knows color exist, Love feels it
And when love is hating its own and treating it as though something else is better,
Cause you’d rather be with Heather
Or maybe Ms. Ramirez, cause you think that’s the fairest

No, Brotha’, there’s a problem, solve it!
Cause I see you looking at Shaniqua with doubt
Black Man, what’s that all about ?

Isn’t your mother Black, isn’t your sister Black, isn’t your very daughter and son Black?
Are you dating her because she has long straight blonde hair, or easier; so you have stated?  Or are you dating her because you really love her?  

Are you not dating her over there, because you think she got an attitude and hair is too short or kinked up, and hips are too big, and the skin is too dark?  Or are you not dating her because you honestly don’t match character-wise.
There are plenty of beautiful Black woman with many shades and shapes
But regardless, whoever you date make sure love is the basis for it all

I love my Blackness, I love these big hips and round ass, and I love the thickness of my hair, And all of the styles that I can work with
Because nobody else got all these beautiful characteristics, not like me.  Don’t you see?
GOD pictured us, and then made us and said, “Black women, I’m going to make you beautiful, Black and unique.
Cause brotha’, why you tryin’ to play me, when she over there tryin’ to be just like me.

My Brotha’s…. What ever happened to Black Love?
Your own brother you talkin’ about like a dog to the world, and you won’t even help him
And the White Man is sitting back loving it all

But when the White man does the same, it racism
Y’all better cut out all that haterism
What is that really going to accomplish, for real?
Y’all better start making this a big deal
Cause just remember the White man will help his own kind before he helps you, if anything he probably gonna use you for all your hard work, don’t get it confused… OK?
Cause ain’t that what he did to you back in the day?
Understand that, remember that, just go ahead and place it in your mind in case you ever forget

My sisters…. What ever happened to Black Love?
Have we forgot how to respect ourselves?
Cause you know if YOU don’t, the man sure the hell won’t
Now, I’m gonna say this once and maybe once more, because even sometimes I forget and I don’ wrote it:

“Having a man in my life will only influence my happiness, not decide my happiness.
My happiness will be chosen by myself and will depend upon my attitude about who I am as a Black woman and life in general.”
 

Don’t just totally rely on a man to get you where and what you want
Set goals, set dreams, and be the strong Black, unique, woman that GOD made you to be
And if a man does come around to welcome you something, that’s fine
Just remember you can get yours even if he don’t come around

And lets help one another out and build each other up instead of down
We have to keep this world together Black ladies
Act like you love yourself and your children,
Men will respect that
And make them men wait before you just go around given’ it up
Treat your stuff like its diamonds and gold
Make them pay some kind of price before you give it up
And NO….. that price is not all about money, or what they could buy you
Although don’t get me wrong that is nice, But in reality, you can do that your damn self
Unless you don’t really care… Maybe you just need to get you some
But use condoms and don’t be dumb
Unless you want a baby or a disease
And if you are in a relationship, hey… that’s your call
But reach into your mind for a moment before you let them panties fall

And reap the consequences that’s all I’m saying
And think about that, while you on that bed or floor laying

And yes we’ve all had to learn the hard way about feelings getting hurt
I know I have, but now I know I’m on alert
Black women, you have to start using your mind,

Cause If you don’t, then guess who they going around calling a HO?
And you looking like you didn’t even know
So…
If you like that title, then go ahead and do the damn thing Fo’ show!
What ever happened to Black love?
Why are you putting him down as a Black man all the time?
Yes he has flaws, but so do you
Even though Black Men do get on my nerves sometimes too
I can feel you on that and I can relate
But I love my Black Men, I must admit, and I want him as my mate
And I’d rather be with a Black Man any day, and have his children
Because in my book, that’s just the way to do it

Black men have had struggles like no other man, and he has conquered endeavors in front of the entire world
They be frontin’ on him, but they wanna be just like that Black Man
That Black Man is strong in body and in mind
They don’t know his strength, and NO, they can’t have his strength

Why are you dwelling on his jail times, and bail times
And if he doesn’t change, then you know what you gotta do
But let me just remind you, there’s more Black men who got it together than you think
Don’t let the news confuse you

But he’s trying to do something with his life and needs your support as a Black Woman
These Black men have come a long way
And they are here to stay
And they are reaching limitless boundaries and I am loving it…OK!

Stand by his side, and take care of that Black King
So you can teach your little prince to be just like that Black King
So that we may raise our little Black prince and princess up, so that they know who they are as a Black woman and Black man
And not become confused, thinking that Whiteness is better than Blackness
So they may represent and present what Black love is

Don’t get me wrong, we should love all races
But not love all other races and hate our own Blackness.

What ever happened to Black love?
Black love is a beautiful thing
Being Black is a beautiful thing
We need Black people to represent the Black love, because if we don’t, who will?
The man who is White?          Yea, right….

Black love is needed in order to built the self-esteem of Black people and to keep the generation going and going and going
Its lacking sometimes, it’s shedding a little
Who told your mind that White skin is better than Black ?
Who told your mind that course hair is bad, and straight hair is better?
Who told your mind this nose is unattractive and that narrow straight nose is better?
Who told your mind these big lips are unpleasant and those thin lips are better?

The person who has that White skin told you that!
That person who has that straight hair told you that!
That person who has that narrow straight nose told you that!
That person with those thin lips told you that!
GOD never told you that!!

And you believed them like a fool, because it was more of them than you!
And why did you listen????  Ok, so now they GOD right? NO!
 
They told you that, because that’s what they have and they like who they are
But you actin’ like you don’t even like who you are,
GOD created me and told me and showed me that I am beautiful
And I don’t know what you talkin’ bout
But I love my Blackness, It is beautiful, And you can’t have it, And you ain’t got it, And you ain’t never gonna take it,
And NO, I ain’t going to exchange my Blackness

What ever happened to Black Love?
When I see more White people in love than I see Black people – That’s what it seems
And for the Black people who are in love, I raise my fist in the air for you

When I see you disrespecting that Black Queen, and then you walking down the isle with that White one
When I see you neglecting that Black daughter of yours, but raising that new mixed daughter of yours, But ain’t she Black too?
Who told your mind that the light is better than the dark?
Who told your heart that the loving was easier?
Who told your soul that you would rather be in a committed relationship with her rather than me?
Why are you letting your ears listen to those White words, when he doesn’t even like who you really are. And sees you as negatively different?
And even wants to see you be more like him, because he thinks he is better, and wonders why GOD even made you in the first place

What the HELL ever happened to Black Love?
Because you don’t even like who you are,
So now you trying to change me, rearrange me, and than exchange me

My sisters and brothers, What ever happened to Black love?
Let’s make it grow some more with force
Spreading it out is OK, let’s just remember our own as well
Let’s keep it intact, so there won’t even be a question as to:

What Ever Happened to Black Love

Written by Tinisha Nicole Johnson
Author, Writer, Poet
www.tinishanicolejohnon.com