FLOTUS Michelle Obama & Racism porn

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And so here we go again. The moment that African Americans describe or share the pain that racism has wrought, many of our countrymen and women respond by trotting out and bombarding us with their racism porn – you know, the statistics or studies or, as is usually the case, the flat-out pronouncements about African American life that these folks always seem to have in the ready. Their tried and true collection of what passes as knowledge about African American communities is the material from which these men and women generate and feed the barely disguised pleasure they apparently get from African American hurt, subordination and – if we are honest – from their own racial privileges.

It is absolutely obscene.

In her commencement speech to Tuskegee University graduates, First Lady Michelle Obama did a remarkable thing: she spoke candidly not only about the racism that she suffered during President Obama’s first run for office and throughout his presidency; she also spoke openly about the pain that she suffered as a result. Michelle, for example, recalled the criticism she received while on the campaign trail, criticism that was clearly motivated by a desire to tear her down by framing her within the myriad stereotypes reserved specifically for black women. “Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating?” Michelle remembered. She reminded the graduates that she was characterized as “‘Obama’s baby mama,’” a slight meant to denigrate Michelle by associating her with the much-maligned single parent households in African American communities, with so-called “illegitimacy,” and with “absent” black fathers. Michelle spoke, too, of the “insults and slights” that “Barak has endured.”

“All of this used to really get to me,” Michelle confided to the Tuskegee graduates. “I had a lot of sleepless nights.” Moreover, she worried “about what people thought” of her, wondered if she “might be hurting” Barack’s “chances of winning his election,” and feared how her “girls would feel” if they “found out what some people were saying about their mom.” Faced with such an onslaught of hate, she had to discover ways to “keep” her “sanity and not let others define” her.

And still, because the attacks haven’t subsided – “all of the chatter, the name calling, the doubting” – she has to “block everything out and focus” on her “truth.” Experiences such as these, Michelle confessed, make for a “heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter.”

That’s a lot of pain. And it is pain that I am sure the graduates understood, having themselves experienced (no doubt) racism all of their lives.

But why bother acknowledging that pain when what’s important, really, is that you use it to arouse your own pleasure? For example:

“Why didn’t the First Lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of affirmative action?” Angela McGlowan of “Fox & Friends” happily asked (I mention her first because she’s African American and, as such, she truly represents the triumph of white supremacy).

Both Michelle and Barack, charged Ann Coulter gleefully, planned the Tuskegee speech “in order to keep a certain segment of the black population angry and voting against Republicans” – in particular, the “‘predator class’” in Baltimore’s African American community that “largely targets other members of the black community.” What it “all comes from,” Coulter continued (in orgasmic glee and no longer concerned about whether her critique actually addressed anything Michelle Obama had to say) is “illegitimacy,” for which we have to thank the “New Deal” and the “War on Poverty.” The latter, Coulter triumphantly pronounced, “just breeds a predator class.”

The “First Lady’s transparent manipulation of clueless blacks this past weekend in Alabama” – that would be Tuskegee’s college graduates – “would be comical” (noted M. Catherine Evan) “if her black brothers and sisters weren’t killing each other at alarming rates (including aborted babies).”

Michelle has “a giant chip on [her] shoulder,” Rush Limbaugh passionately declared. Indeed, she was just using the Tuskegee speech as an excuse to “roil the culture, rile up people who ought to have a different approach being made to them.”

All this in response to the First Lady’s speech (I’m going to stop now – not because there isn’t more hate to quote, but because writing this makes me downright ill).

So let’s call out these reactions for what they are: getting off on black pain, getting off on racism, and getting off on racial subordination. “Illegitimacy,” “black-on-black crime,” “fatherless households,” “affirmative action,” “criminality,” “public assistance” – all of this, when hurled in response to black pain (and even when not), is racism porn, the recitation of which is absolutely heady to the one reciting it and signifies his or her deep, if not bottomless illicit pleasure in the racial status quo.

And how do we know that this is all about pleasure? The dead give-away is that those who usually trot out this stuff do so not from a desire to improve the lived experiences of African Americans or to help heal African American pain or to offer solutions, the purpose of which would be to support a thriving African American community. Instead, they do so both to elicit a reaction that will allow them to keep their hate juices flowing and to cause, if they can, even more pain (psychic, spiritual, and material).

So we have to start calling out this pleasure, naming it, and challenging it by taking on those who seek pleasure in and make money off of other people’s suffering — and we must do so because their pleasure is, at bottom, a form of violence that none of us should ever have to endure.

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