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President Obama's Comment About Attorney General Kamala Harris: I'm Not Offended, and Ain't I A Woman?

President Obama lauds California Attorney General Kamala Harris by saying she's brilliant, tough, dedicated and "the best looking attorney general in the country."

One of the local news channels here, CBS 13, showed a video of interviews with women -- and a guy or two -- asking them whether President Obama's remarks were offensive to women.  The women gave mixed responses.

None of the women were African-American, which pisses me the hell off because, as an African-American woman, I've got a way different perspective on this and I'm tired of white women being the voice of all women.  In the words of Sojourner Truth, ain't I a woman?

My perspective is different because I saw President Obama's remarks not as a gendered commentary, but a raced-and-gendered commentary, if you will, and an inside joke between friends.  I don't recall President Obama ever making a comment about the looks of a non-African-American female, which is why I, as an African-American woman, respect him -- because his choices in women affirm us African-American women.  I know this sounds anything but feminist, but hear me out.

I am one of the few African-American women who served on the Harvard Law Review with the President long before he became president.  We weren't buds and he couldn't pick me out of a lineup, but I have to admit -- I expected that he, like many African-American men poised to be successful and powerful, wouldn't even choose an African-American woman as a mate, much less revel in the beauty of African-American women.

Many African-American men like President Obama are told that, precisely because they are successful and powerful, they don't have to "limit" themselves to African-American women.  One African-American male student I met while attending Princeton told me that men like him could "trade up" and didn't have to date African-American women.  In fact, he even deigned to tell me in so many words that I was lucky he was paying me any attention.

When I see so many powerful and successful African-American men date outside our race, I have to admit -- although I believe love knows no color, I wonder whether they ever considered dating an African-American woman or whether they bought into the message about "trading up." When you see Tiger Woods' parade of women past and present, it's pretty clear that he does not find African-American women attractive.

So when the Leader of the Freakin' Free World not only habitually gushes about his African-American wife's beauty -- a beauty that has been repeatedly derided in the mainstream press -- and goes on to compliment the beauty of another intelligent and powerful African-American woman, I'm not offended.  I'm affirmed, strangely enough.  So much of what appears in the media about African-American women is negative in so many ways -- like pictures on the internet comparing the First Lady to a chimpanzee -- that I'm happy that the one man who could pretty much choose any woman in the world revels in the intelligence and beauty of African-American women.  No offense, but I don't want white women's experiences to be the barometer of whether I should be offended.  They don't experience the world as I do.  Never have, never will.

I'm not offended, and ain't I a woman?

The President was wrong, though.  Eric Holder is the best looking attorney general in the country.


Liza said…
He should act like a president. He has taken the dignity out of the office. Running around with stars and trying to be a celebrity. How about being a president and acting presidential.He is a disgrace to the office. He went on the apology tour oversees now something stupid as this. America is becoming a joke all over the world.
ThatDeborahGirl said…
lol - Eric Holder is taking sexy back though, for real.

I like your post. I took Obama's comment in the spirit that it was meant, but I knew he was going to catch flack for it and he should. Just a little. Not a whole lot.

But every man needs to be reminded not be condescending to "the pretty little lady" now and again. That attitude, no matter how well meant, demeans more than it uplifts.

However with the Republicans getting away with calling folks the n-word and wetbacks and referring to blah people, I find it very difficult to be too upset with President Obama about this.

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