Wednesday, June 18

Michelle Obama Looking to Carve New Image

Michelle Obama is a political figure that is polarizing; You either love her or hate her. That's why I found this article in The New York Times really interesting. It gives you a look at her upbringing, education and her attempts at addressing racial resentment.

On Her Upbringing

Michelle Robinson grew up in the black half of a divided Chicago. She and her brother, Craig, lived with their parents on the second floor of a bungalow. “Two bedrooms, if you want to be generous,” she says.

Her father, Frasier Robinson, was a pump operator for Chicago’s water department and a precinct captain in the Democratic machine. Her mother, Marian, brought workbooks home to keep her children ahead of their classes. The working-class neighborhood was filled with uncles and grandparents, block associations and oak trees. “We knew the gang-bangers — my brother played basketball in the park,” Mrs. Obama says. “Home never feels dangerous.”

On Her Education

In 1981, she left for Princeton, an overwhelmingly white institution that cherished its genteel traditions. She was one of 94 black freshmen in a class of over 1,100. Catherine Donnelly, a white student from New Orleans, was a roommate. Her mother spent months pleading with Princeton officials to give her daughter a white roommate instead. “Mom just blew a gasket when I described Michelle,” Ms. Donnelly recalled. “It was my secret shame.”

Mrs. Obama shrugs now. Some classmates resented blacks; some resented affirmative action. “Diversity can’t be taken care of with 10 kids,” she says. “There is an isolation that comes with that.”

Racial Resentment
In her senior thesis, she asked: Does immersion in an elite white institution draw blacks away from their community? She surveyed black Princeton alumni, finding their ties weakened after graduation.

“The path I have chosen to follow by attending Princeton,” Mrs. Obama wrote in the introduction, “will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society, never becoming a full participant.”

It's a really interesting look at this complicated woman. I encourage you to read the entire article.



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