We here at Islandista are overjoyed.
There is simply no other way to put it. Of course we were invested in this US election and Barack Obama’s candidacy. Even for islandistas who do not live in the US, we all understood the importance of this election and this candidacy, the need to lift the malaise that has hung over the US and hence by extension, the world for the last few years. We needed hope and crazy, dizzy optimism.
And we got it. Barack Obama is the President-elect of the United States.
Let us be honest. This election was followed by Caribbean people like none other. And it has a lot to do with the fact that Barack Obama is black – just like the majority of the people living in the Caribbean islands. We have always shared in the hopes, struggles and pain of our black brethren and sistren all over the world, from the United States to South Africa. We were all in this too and this victory felt like ours. I know many of us shed tears last night.
But now islandistas, let us turn to the issue that fascinates and delights us – a black woman is going to be the next First Lady of the United States. She will move into that fabled position held by such icons as Jacqueline Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton. A black woman – who is just like us. Someone who we can totally relate to, with her lower-middle class background, her assertiveness and earthiness, her black woman’s hips and black woman’s strength. We look at Michelle Obama and we see ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, friends, aunts and colleagues. Strong, incredible black women.
And most beautifully, we can see how loved she is by her husband. And we LOVE, love, love it, don’t we?
Because, again let’s face it. Many prominent and successful black men ‘trade in’ when they move on up. The black wife may be good for the starter wife but not for the trophy wife. But Michelle Obama is not just Barack’s rock, she is his trophy and he holds her up proudly. I will never forget hearing a snippet of an interview he did on BET with Jeff Johnson and when asked about his wife, noted:
“Well first off, I don’t know if you noticed but … my wife is fine.”
I loved that – that rumble of whole-hearted appreciation for his woman. I love that the affection and attraction and appreciation the Obamas have for each other is so palpable. With so many political couples, they seem so stiff and staged – the Clintons readily pop to mind. With the Obamas, you see all these little signs of their love and affection – when Michelle hugs him tightly from behind or Barack taps her on her hip or the fist bump heard round the world. The picture above just sums up the love and affection they seem to have for each other that you don’t usually see with couples in public life.
And islandistas, isn’t it a joy to see this? We know the state of male-female relations in the black community, especially on this side of the Atlantic where our families and relationships have been riven by historical social injustices. Black women are less likely to be married than women of any other race. Even when our men don’t trade us in, we are often not loved and honoured as we should be. Which is another reason why we love the Obamas.
Kim McClarin put it well on The Root months ago, explaining why President-elect Obama’s wife makes us as black women love him more:
“What I am saying is that in America it is not often we see the wife of a successful black man who looks like Michelle, and that seeing her beside him is, for some of us, almost as transforming a moment as seeing him where he is. … More importantly, Michelle Obama seems to take his open adoration of her in stride, as if it were simply nothing more than she deserved. Concept!
And of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s fierce. Like the banded red and black Narciso Rodriguez ombre dress she wore last night for Barack’s acceptance speech. Not quite as hot as the purple Mario Pinto she wore when Barack passed the magic number of delegates to win the primaries, but hot nonetheless. That is why she has been all up in folks’ best dressed lists for the last two years. And we hear she is going to bring it for the Inauguration and is already in discussion with black designer Cassandra Bromefield to design her dress. Hotness and promoting black design talent? We loves it.