Skip to main content

Unspoken Assumptions and Unfounded Fears

This week, President and Mrs. Obama are touring Europe, their first stop being Great Britain and the G-20 summit. The media have spent almost as much energy discussing Mrs. Obama’s potential fashion choices as they have the chances of Mr. Obama getting other European governments to increase their own domestic stimulus spending. However, the tone of discussion surrounding Mrs. Obama’s potential fashion choices wasn’t solely upbeat and optimistic (“Gee, I wonder which designer she’s going to surprise us with!”), but more of trepidation that Mrs. Obama wouldn’t know exactly what was proper attire for a visit with Queen Elizabeth (“She does know that sleeveless might not be appropriate for meeting the Queen, doesn’t she?”) or other official protocol, like not touching the Queen, who, by the way, touched Mrs. Obama FIRST.

Let me just put it out there: The unspoken assumption was that Mrs. Obama wouldn’t know how to dress or act properly for formal occasions on foreign soil. She’s already been called “trash” by some in the media, and one commentator had the nerve to compare her to the female dog the Obamas plan to get for their daughters.

The unfounded fear was that she might embarrass the nation. Let’s take that apart first.

For those Americans who have not traveled to Europe, here’s a news flash: You can’t embarrass the United States in Europe, or any place else in the world for that matter, any more than the United States has already embarrassed itself. The bar for Europeans’ expectations of American civility and culture is pretty darn low, and it was set that way long before Mrs. Obama met Queen Elizabeth. Mrs. Obama would have had to have worn a pair of Apple Bottom jeans, a metallic tank top with no bra, and some Candies shoes and dropped it like it was hot in Trafalgar Square before she had lowered Europeans’ expectations of Americans when it comes to civility and culture.

Let’s see – wasn’t it our last president, the then-Leader of the Free World, who had the temerity to wink at Queen Elizabeth when she came for a state visit? (Dude, she’s married, happily or unhappily, for over what – 50 years?) And Mickey Rooney all but dry humped Her Majesty during her visit here. I can imagine she couldn’t get back to stalking at Balmoral soon enough. She probably thought the elk in the Scottish highlands were better behaved than the Americans she met on her last visit here.

And no one said a peep about what First Lady Laura Bush wore to meet the Queen. Oh, but she must know how to act and dress properly, right, since she’s a . . . wait, isn’t she a chain smoker who actually killed someone while driving? Right. But she probably knows how to comport herself with heads of state, though.

Then, let’s not forget President George W. Bush’s visit to Brazil, where he openly admitted his ignorance of the fact that Brazil has the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa. “Did you know that?”, he openly questioned the then-Tutor-in-Chief, Condi Rice, who had to school our President publicly about the racial makeup of Brazil. During a state visit. In public. I don’t know about you, but I was embarrassed. Almost as embarrassed as I was when the first President Bush threw up and passed out at a state dinner in Japan.

Mrs. Obama couldn’t have possibly done worse, even if she tried.

America, get it through your heads: Mrs. Obama isn’t Lil Kim. Or Britney Spears for that matter. She had a proper upbringing, went to elite schools, and probably knows a lot more about protocol and manners than most of the trash, trailer and otherwise, who are worried that she, of all people, might not know how to dress and carry herself. My message is simple: Before you worry about how Mrs. Obama is handling her business, you need to ask yourselves how you’re handling your own. Do your own children have good manners? Do they know how to dress appropriately for different occasions, i.e., t-shirts and/or jeans are not appropriate for church or funerals? Does your husband know to take a hostess gift to a party? Do you know which fork is the salad fork and where the bread plate is? America, before you check Mrs. Obama on her wardrobe and manners, you really need to check yourselves first. Don’t assume that just because she’s black that she doesn’t know protocol and doesn’t have manners.

And don’t act like you weren’t.


Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Black Woman Blogging's Gun Control Proposal

Thanks to a relative who sent me death threats, I became a gun owner. Reluctantly.  What can I say.  You don't choose your family.

That said, I'm for gun control.

As far as I'm concerned, America lost its moral compass when we didn't do squat after Sandy Hook.  If you can allow a madman to murder children and not be moved to do nothing, you have no moral compass.  Period.

Now that we've broken an unfortunate record for the number of people killed in a mass shooting, perhaps we as a country are ready to get our minds right about gun control.  Perhaps.  So in that spirit, I offer my gun control proposal.

First, we need to agree on some real (not alternative) facts and principles:

1.  There is no such thing as an unlimited right.  Yes, people, there are no unlimited rights protected under the Constitution.  Your right to free speech?  Well, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment and even protected speech can be limited by time, place and manner.  Your…

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…