‘This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something that we can just sweep under the rug’.
Just a few weeks ago, Michelle Obama stood in front of an audience comprised of hundreds of her advocates, publicly speaking out against sexist, disturbing comments that Donald Trump had allegedly made against women. The public outcry was enormous, threatening his victory in the 2016 American Election. Of course, what is more disturbing is that we now know that this did little to impede his success, and by January, he will surely be the next President of the United States of America.
‘It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels’, wrote the director of the Clay County Development Corp, Pamela Ramsey Taylor on a Facebook post. Her comments were even supported by Beverly Whaling, the mayor of Clay County. Though Whaling has since been removed from her position, this case of inherent racism should be treated as a warning sign for the events of Trump’s presidency. To take the words out of Michelle Obama’s mouth, ‘this is not something that we can ignore’. Neither is it something that can be fixed by punishment, or an apology. This behaviour is suggestive of a deeply engrained attitude of racism; it represents the most hateful mentality in America.
Whaling claimed that she had not intended to be racist, but this ignorance embodies the problem itself. Her racism was natural, and it was something that she did not herself recognise. It had to be pointed out for her to realise the error of her ways, and this is something deeply troubling. To imply that a woman as infinitely brilliant, inspiring, and intelligent as Michelle Obama is not ‘beautiful’, or ‘dignified’ because she is not white is most disappointing. A woman of such high authority actively spoke out against a woman who, if not already, should be regarded as one of the most successful in the entirety of American history.
Michelle Obama was educated at Princeton University as well as Harvard: two of the most successful educational institutions in the world. Michelle is a lawyer, a writer, and an intellectual; her marriage to Barack Obama and her position as First Lady is just the cherry on the top. She is inspirational even as she is, and this sends out a powerful message to little girls all over the world who have a drop of ambition in them. She overcame barriers, a multitude of social barriers to get to her position today. After everything the Obamas have fought for over the past eight years, the comments made by Taylor and Whaling highlight severely regressive attitudes which threaten to reverse every advancement made. This is not something that we can ignore. Treat this with care; learn from it; treat it as a warning sign.