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How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine (that was picked up by EBONY magazine) in response to an offensive cartoon of FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the links: How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine and How Dare You Come for First Lady Michelle Obama! by M. Michelle Derosier for EBONY magazine.

michelle obama-610x250

Full disclosure in the spirit of transparency: I STAN as hard for Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama as the Beyhive works to keep Queen Bey (aka Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter) in honey.

As a nose-in-the-book Black girl who grew up in Flatbush when Brooklyn was still too hood for gentrification, I am here, present, and on time for her rise from the South Side of Chicago to become an Ivy League lawyer, and now First Lady of the United States. As a tall girl whose height was a source of constant ridicule, I am also here, present, and on time for the regal and dignified way she carries her 5’11 frame.

While I fully admit that she’s BBF M’Obama in my head, you don’t have to be a fan – or even like her – to find Ben Garrison’s cartoon, comparing a “masculine” Mrs. Obama to Melania Trump in incredibly poor taste and disrespectful.

offensive flotus cartoon

Other than a pathetic attempt to gain publicity, what’s the motivation behind it? What message is it trying to send?

Are we supposed to be disheartened that yet another Black woman is found lacking when measured against white beauty standards? Been there. Done that. And you don’t have that power over us anymore. We’ve been growing the list of Black beauties and #CarefreeBlackGirls who reflect who we really are. In addition to the Michelles and the Oprahs, we’re adding the Violas, the Lupitas, the Tracees, and the Yaras, too.

Is this yet another reminder that to be Black means to achieve twice as much and receive half the credit? Don’t worry. That lesson is branded in our DNA. There’s no forgetting it.

As FLOTUS, Mrs. Obama has spearheaded four successful nationwide and global initiatives: a campaign to address childhood obesity; a call to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families are properly supported; an effort to inspire young people to dream beyond high school; and a movement to educate and empower young women.

Additionally, as a fashion icon, Mrs. Obama has done what Kim Kardashian only wishes she could – directly impact the stock price of the commercial fashion industry. According to David Yermack, a professor of finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business, “For just a generic company at a routine event, it was worth about $38 million to have Mrs. Obama wear your clothes.”

Someone please call POTUS to drop the doggone mic.

obama.mic_.drop_1.gif

Sadly, in the face of all this Black Girl Magic, we still find an America who would prefer as FLOTUS a woman who posed naked on a white fur rug inside a private jet for British GQ, instead of an Ivy League trained lawyer.

Am I surprised? Not at all.

Honestly, I’m not even mad at Melania. It would be too easy to go down the road of mud flinging and pitting the two women against each other, but that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Our problem runs so much deeper, and so far beyond America.

Black female beauty in this world has often been ridiculed, oversexualized, or both. This fact comes into particular focus when I think of Sarah Baartman, an African woman who was tricked into leaving the continent to move to Europe, only to be paraded around “freak shows” to exhibit her ample bottom. Like Mrs. Obama, White cartoonists also ridiculed her figure in the name of satire.

Ironically, according to the 2015 report from the American society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), on average, a butt related procedure (implant or lift) was performed every 30 minute in 2015. And I’m sure we can guess who’s shelling out for that.

Instead of getting angry at this cartoon, I choose to celebrate the woman that’s being ridiculed. The woman who has spent eight years in the White House tirelessly serving and advocating for many of the same citizens who hold her in such contempt.

Like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama chooses to rise above her haters. She wins.

 

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Ferguson: Verdict Aftermath.

By now you know the officer who shot Micheal Brown, Jr. was not indicted.

How could he have been when the law is written in such a way that allows for the broadest interpretation of reasonable imminent threat? Meaning that officer Wilson was free to shoot to kill because he reasonably believed Michael Jr. posed a threat to his life even though the teen was unarmed.

I have never been a police officer and never involved in police work, so I can’t say what it’s like in a time of heightened danger where you’re facing a having to take a life in order to save your own. I imagine it’s heart stopping fear wondering if you’re going to make it home to your family. However, where is the reasonable danger to you when you are the one who is armed? When you are the one brandishing a loaded weapon? Where’s the threat when you’re armed, it’s broad daylight and your opponent is running away?

Police officers are an integral part of our community and serve a vital role in maintaining order and protecting us as citizens. As such we are to support them and make every effort to keep them safe while they keep us safe. The problem is when the law – as it does now – dismisses the protection of citizens in favor of the protection of law enforcement. Isn’t there a better balance? Isn’t there a way to reasonably protect the lives of officers without sacrificing the lives of young men of color? Don’t their lives have value as well? Are there not mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends whose hearts would be shattered if they should lose their lives? Or is the life of a poor kid of color so worthless that there shouldn’t be anyone to mourn for him?

I was slapped in the face today by someone’s angry Facebook rant towards those who had the nerve to seek justice for Michael Brown, Jr.: a thief, the person exclaimed. While we can debate the veracity of that video released by the Ferguson police department, that doesn’t get at the heart of this issue. It doesn’t get the point this person is missing. Whether or not he had taken those cigarillos did not warrant being gunned down like an animal. I’m sorry, not like an animal. PETA would never stand for it. So why should we as human beings place any less value on another human life?

Because he did a stupid thing that he would have likely learned a lesson from had he not been killed? Because making a mistake at 18 means that his path was set for life with no chance for redemption? How many of us now productive members of society would have carried a vastly different legacy if our lives had been cut down in our teens or young adulthood? Who knows what contributions Michael Brown, Jr. would have made to this world? What husband he would have been? What child he would have guided and raised? What changes he would have made to his community? What productive member of society he would have become?

We don’t know because he was never given the chance because of a system that’s broken. A system that tolerates an officer refusing to carry a taser because it’s bulky and uncomfortable. When that same bulky and uncomfortable Taser could have meant doing his job without taking a life.

The allowance of excessive force when an officer reasonably believes his life is in immediate danger is flawed. It’s like using one permission slip for every single school trip when your parents only meant it for the trip to the planetarium last month. Shoot to kill should not be a blanket permission slip. You can’t be free and clear to shoot someone who is unharmed and moving away from you. There’s zero logic in that.

Our system is broken. It’s broken. And until we make systemic changes we won’t ever get justice for Michael Brown, Jr. or any other ones that came before him, or any who will inevitably come after him.

And I have to tell you, I just don’t have any more tears in me to cry for another life that doesn’t  need to be lost. And I don’t have any more ways to encourage my 21-year-old brother that he matters in this country. That all our brothers by blood matter. And that all the boys who look like him but are not related to him matter. I don’t have it in me anymore to have to tell him he’s too young to give up on change. That he’s too young to accept defeat and to accept things as they are.

If we don’t change this system, older sisters like me, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends and wives will start to run out of excues to justify this country’s  (OUR country’s) treatment of black men.

change

NaBloPoMo_November

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American, American Dream, Author, Blue collar, Brooklyn, Career, Education, Family, Family Values, Flatbush, Haiti, Haitian, Higher education, Inspiration, Inspire, It takes a village, Labor, Menial work, mentor, NYC, role model, Sacrifice, Self confidence, The Godfather

A Grandfather’s Sacrifice.

Speaking of mentoring, here’s a note I wrote a few years ago on Thank Your Mentor Day in honor of my grandpa – the original mentor in my life. The man I lovingly refer to as #TheHaitianGodfather. 🙂

Who mentored you? Please share your story.

I am a true representation of the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” I was that child and my village consisted of my family, my church, my teachers, and a sprinkling of strangers throughout the years. These individuals were instrumental in providing a foundation for the development of my values and beliefs.

The most important person in said village was (and probably still is) my grandfather – the man who nurtured and mentored me throughout most of my life. My grandfather is a man who “could have been somebody” in the materialistic sense of the statement. He is perceptive, clever with numbers, and annoyingly adept at learning new languages.

However, my grandfather spent most of his adult life working menial jobs and catering to those who are “somebody.” He did so not because he lacked focus or determination, but because he chose to surrender his success for that of his family.

Instead of going to school when he arrived in the U.S. from Haiti in the 70s, he spent decades working to afford to bring his children and extended family members to America for a better life. His desire for higher education was never fulfilled, but his labor paid for countless degrees and full access to the American Dream.

As I watch the state of Haiti today I am especially thankful for my grandfather’s sacrifice and overall guidance.


grandpa raise hand

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