Bantering with a friend the other day about Michelle Obama’s appearance at the DNC something crazy just popped out of my mouth. We were discussing how everyone and his/her mama were buzzing about how beautiful the first lady looked. There was even talk about the nail polish she wore. And that speech left nary a dry eye in the house. Especially when Mom-in-chief revealed she loves her hubby now more than ever. Michelle’s approval rating is soaring. These days she’s even considered Obama’s ‘secret’ weapon. Oh what a difference four years make.
Then: “Oh pleeze,” I jokingly chided. “Soon as Malia and Sasha graduate high school just like Frederick Douglass, Obama will be saying, ‘I am married to an old black log.’” For some reason the asinine quote supposedly from a letter Douglass wrote his daughter spilled out of me. Ol’ Frederick didn’t think an uneducated dark-skinned young man was good enough for his baby girl. The novel begins with the old black log line that Jewell Parker Rhodes said inspired her to write Douglass’ Women, one of my all-time favorite books.
I read the novel years ago and it put Douglass on the map for me. Prior to it he was simply the black abolitionist instrumental in freeing the slaves. Shoot I didn’t even know he was mixed race. All I ever saw were pictures of a suited up brother with a huge afro. But not only was Frederick Douglass the greatest African American orator of his time, he was also an author, businessman, and statesman, who also championed women’s rights or suffrage as it was called in those days.
So I guess President Obama and FD are intertwined in my head since they share a commonality in oratorical skills, writing ability, and alignment with women’s rights. There are the differences too: FD’s sperm donor was white, possibly the plantation owner. His mother was a black slave and was sent off to a different plantation so FD saw very little of her. His mother died when he was around seven or so. So basically FD was raised by his black grandmother.
Obama’s parentage was just the opposite. Not much similarity in wives either, except skin color. FD’s wife Anna was dark-skinned, short, stout and illiterate. In the novel and the little history I managed to dig up about Anna, she never learned to read or write. Anna contented herself with running the house and caring for the children, often alone, as FD was rarely around.
Unlike the highly educated ‘Mom-in-chief’, Anna would’ve never been invited to stand before a crowd and give a speech to bolster her husband’s political aspirations. You see FD was considered handsome, intelligent and important. Anna was born free but since she wasn’t literate and didn’t look a certain way wasn’t considered a ‘fitting wife’ for the great FD.
As the story goes, after trying a couple of times to escape from slavery, it was only with Anna’s money and a sailor’s suit she’d made him that FD was finally successful. He supposedly repaid Anna by marrying her. Maybe he didn’t love her but that didn’t stop him from visiting her body. Out of his women it was Anna only who produced his heirs. But when he was all over the world being all debonair and important, FD kept other women by his side. Women that looked nothing like Anna.
Unlike Mitt Romney’s Vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan, I don’t think Obama dated black girls before he met Michelle. “Barry one of those slick Chicago politicians,” I quipped to my friend. “He knew having a chocolate educated sister by his side would open some political doors. Not to mention Michelle’s from the Southside. Go Barry.”
Back to Michelle’s appearance. Several news folks stated she was a lot more polished than four years ago. Unlike other first ladies Michelle’s been called fat, not a great beauty, even Chewbacca. I used to pray she didn’t go out on the Internet and read all the mean-spirited stuff being said about her. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Michelle is like superwoman these days.
“Well, Bill Clinton said the president had the good sense to marry Michelle,” I joked. “And Jimmy Fallon mentioned a Hillary Clinton/Michelle Obama ticket come 2016. Guess that means Michelle isn’t going to be Obama’s or anybody’s old black log.”
FYI: I am definitely looking forward to 2016 and can hardly wait for Barack to saunter up on stage like a preened rooster and crow Michelle’s praise for the world to hear.