Thursday, June 5, 2008

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis: an analysis

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis: an analysis
By Shakedown Crews
For the subject of my first Blog, I wanted to spend a little time on an issue that has been touched on by the mainstream media (Politico), but not in great depth. It interests me because, as a former White liberal and Democrat, I have always had an interest in race relations in our country. I had considered it part of my duty as a citizen to try to mend fences, as it were, and to do what I could to help heal our society.
A number of issues over the past ten years have made me considerably more conservative. But I am still interested in race relations in the USA. My perspective on what to do and how to do it has changed. But I still read on the topic and try to educate myself.
Most recently, I read Juan William’s book, ENOUGH, in which he explores the wonderful ideology and activism of one of my current heroes, Bill Cosby. I won’t go into great depth on that book in this blog entry. In short, Williams and Cosby have a message for the Black community: Clean up your act, take responsibility, and quit waiting for someone else (Black “leaders”, the government, etc) to raise you up.
Now, in the meantime, I was carefully observing the 2008 Presidential campaign of Barak Obama, and I was alarmed by a number of “indicators” I saw that suggested that—although he hopes to be a “great uniter”—he actually harbors secret radical ideologies that may divide the country. His long-term association with Reverend Wright, whose extremist views are based upon the Black Liberation Theology, concerned me greatly. Black Liberation Theology is not an ideology that promotes the idea, to quote African-American taxi driver Rodney King who was beat by Los Angeles police, “Why can’t we all just get along?” No, the Liberation Theology was based upon Marxist theories of class warfare, and Black Liberation Theology added the element of Race to that notion of warfare. The result is a rather toxic cocktail that calls Whites “the devil” because of the legacy of slavery. It conveniently overlooks the thousands of years’ traditions in Africa in which Slavery was a common practice, and instead conveniently dumps the evil upon the White doorstep alone.
So for a U.S. Senator to attend—over twenty years—a church whose leader was an extremely controversial proponent of extremist and divisive thought, should have set off alarm bells much earlier than it did.
Obama tried to distance himself from his pastor—without actually leaving the church—by stating that he was retiring and a new and wonderful pastor was coming. But when the new pastor invited another radical Priest (this time a Catholic priest) who expressed more of the same Liberation Theology radicalism from the pulpit and accused Obama’s democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, of being a White Supremacist, Obama finally had to leave the church. Too little, too late, but that’s just an indication of his poor judgment, isn’t it?
So in this context, the country has been wondering why Obama would hang out with this kind of people if—as he repeatedly says—he doesn’t believe it.
When his wife, Michelle Obama made a public gaffe by saying that “for the first time in my adult life I’m proud of my country”, much was made of the statement because it clearly showed a lack of patriotism on her part.
That statement caught my interest, because I was pretty sure we could surmise what she meant, but we needed additional evidence.
That evidence became available when Michelle Obama’s (her maiden name was Robinson, but I’ll refer to her by her current name for this essay) Princeton senior thesis paper was made public.
Well, it was sort of made public, by Politico. You see, the thesis was stored in the library, entitled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community”. In that essay, Obama states:
“I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this thesis.
I authorize Princeton University to lend this thesis to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.”
Apparently, that thesis was not made available for journalistic research. As reported by Politico,
“The 96-page Princeton thesis, restricted from release by the school's Mudd Library, has also been the subject of recent scrutiny….Attempts to retrieve the document through Princeton proved unsuccessful, with school librarians having been pestered so much for access to the thesis that they have resorted to reading from a script when callers inquire about it. Media officers at the prestigious university were similarly unhelpful, claiming it is ‘not unusual’ for a thesis to be restricted and refusing to discuss ‘the academic work of alumni.’
Politico did a two-page analysis of the thesis, which I did not find gratifying; I wanted to know more, and I think you might also. I should note that the 1985 essay is now quite old, and gosh, you know, I held some pretty stupid ideas when I graduated from university at the tender age of 24…or was that 26? So let’s not condemn Obama strictly by the text of the essay, but if we connect the dots between what her Pastor has said, what she has said, her husband’s refusal to wear a lapel pin, and what she wrote in her essay, we can see fairly clearly what her ideologies are.
And she hints that she is a segregationist. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean separationist.
I took time to read the essay, and did a little analysis of it, so you won’t have to. You can thank me later.
The basic premise of the 1985 essay was to Interview blacks who were graduates of the majority-white Princeton University, most of whom attended the school during the ‘70s at the height of the civil rights movement, and to find out
“to which degree they are comfortable interacting with Black and with White individuals…; the extent to which they are motivated to benefit the black community…; the ideologies they hold with respects to race relations between Black and White communities; and the feelings they have toward the black lower class such as a feeling they should help improve the lives of this particular group of Blacks.”
She specifies that
“It is important to understand what will happen to blacks that attend white schools: “will they feel any obligation … to help other Blacks… who are less fortunate than themselves?”
Obama gives some theoretical/ideological background for her approach, which is in itself quite telling. She starts by exploring the “Separationism/Pluralism and Integrationism/Assimilation” paradigm. She explains it thusly:
“The idea of Separationism and Pluralism …is…discussed by Billingsley (1968) who believes that there is a need for Blacks to build up their own communities; define themselves by new “Black” standards different from old White standards; and exercise power and control over their own institutions and services within the Black community…Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s (1967) developed definition of separationism in their discussion of Black Power which guided me in the formulation and use of this concept in the study. ‘The concept of Black Power rests on the fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralist society.”
I’ll return to this concept later, because it poses some incredible contradictions and traps for the Black community.
To get her respondent’s input on this issue, she formulated the following question:
Question # 4. “How would you describe the views you held during the three periods [pre-Princeton, Princeton, Post-Princeton] about relations between Blacks and Whites in the U.S.
Very strongly Separationist and/or Pluralist
Moderately Separationist and/or Pluralist
Moderately integrationist and/or assimilationist
Very strongly integrationist and/or assimilationist”
I find it very interesting that this Thesis was written in 1985. I am curious to know how it was that the Black community managed to go from being 100% focused on achieving desegregation in the late 1960’s, to the point that by the mid 1980’s they were discussing Separationist policies.
Oh, and how is separationism different from segregation? Could it mean: “Separated—on our terms” perhaps?
Contrasting the Separationist ideology, Obama very briefly explores the notion of Integrationist ideology, but surprisingly does not provide any real detail or even a quotation by one of its preeminent proponents. I would interpret that to mean that she is not very interested in the arguments posed by the integrationists.
She does, however, go into depth about the difficulties that Black students face at “White” universities.
“Dejoie believes that ‘Institutional policies of predominately White universities have established practices which favor the prefered [sic] groups and have ranked priorities which are meant to facilitate the tasks and improve the conditions of White students while ignoring the needs of the black students’. Dr. Dejoie goes on in her study to discuss the effects of biased curricula which does not encourage, ‘…the contribution of Blacks, the study of Blacks, as a group’.”
This quote is very telling. Apparently, “White schools” don’t focus enough attention on Blacks and their “contribution”. Presumably, Black sociologists believe that schools need to formulate assertive policies to force Whites to focus on the accomplishments of Blacks in history.
The curricula of most schools generally focus on events, players, causes, effects, and results. A history course that explores the rise and fall of the Third Reich should focus on the historical context of the war, the factors that led up to the war, the events during the war, how and why the Nazi regime collapsed, and the major players during the war.
But should special focus on the Black group of pilots called the Tuskegee Airmen really be a required central focus? Why focus on Blacks, then, instead of Japanese-Americans who contributed? Are Japanese groups clamoring for equal attention? Why not focus on Hispanics who fought in the war (are there Mexican-American or Puerto Rican groups protesting)? And what about the Native-American contribution? Oh wait…have I just lost focus on the primary purpose of the course—“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”?!
This discussion goes on:
“Dejoie also discusses the negative aspects of social and non-academic activities…: “As in academic areas, the social aspects of university life systematically follow the interests of the White students—the majority group”.
Now, this is pretty amazing. Think about it. Obama must agree with Dejoie (since she feels the need to quote Dejoie), when she criticizes “White Schools” because the social life “systematically follow[s] the interest of the White [majority] students”.
And what would you reasonably expect…that the majority White school systematically create social aspects appropriate for Pacific Islanders, Vietnamese or Japanese? No, of course not. So are they saying that it’s only Blacks who need to be accommodated, because they are a special minority?
Or are they saying that Blacks should not attend majority White schools because social life follows the interest of White students. What should “White” schools do to correct this? “Systematically” promote “Black culture”? And what exactly would that look like? If a White school organized Brake-Dance parties or Krumping sessions, they’d be attacked for their insensitive racial stereotyping.
By the way, what are “White interests”? I thought Americans of many races shared interests in football, basketball, music, art, theatre…for that matter, what are the “Black interests” that are not being addressed and can only be done at a Black school? This is fascinating to me. I’d never categorized my interests by racial lines. From my (obviously skewed) perspective, whenever I’ve seen kids get together to explore music, computers, robots, rockets, or whatever, it was the subject that drew them in, and the racial identity of the participant was irrelevant.
The only time “race” has ever become relevant to “interests” is when it is so obvious that the participant’s ethnicity is rare for the interest. Think that’s racist? Then consider Jamaican Bobsledders. Now, why would it be racist for someone to be fascinated in such a concept? There is such an obvious disconnect between the nationality and the environment from which they come, and the very nature of the sport. Black skiers are another rarity. So much so, they have formed their own non-profit organization to promote the sport. Are they racist for noticing that few of their own have explored the sport, or are we racist for noticing how rare it is to see Blacks on the slope and to be happy to meet the few who have taken up the challenge?
So, what would be better? For the Blacks on predominantly White schools to try new things (skiing, bobsledding, and hockey) presented to them by their White counterparts…or for White schools to try to promote things they think are uniquely “Black”. Brake Dancing. Krumping. Purple cars with spinning wheel caps…? It sounds absurd because it is absurd.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand what Michelle means when she says “as a result of such biases…it is often difficult for some Black students to adjust to Princeton’s environment; and…there are very few …support groups”. I lived for a year in Costa Rica (1990), and it really can be difficult to adjust to a ‘new culture’. Of course, there are some key differences: I didn’t speak the language at first, and the cultural differences were quite drastic and unknown to me. I didn’t have much of a “support group”, and I was definitely part of an obvious minority—we gringos with very light skin do tend to stand out.
Obama says,
“My experiences at Princeton has made me far more aware of my ‘Blackness’…I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong…it often seems as if I will always be Black first and a student second.”
This may not be the most comfortable feeling, but if we are honest with ourselves, is there ever going to be a time and place in which all of us are the same? Would that even be desirable? So isn’t it simply a matter of maturity and a good-natured outlook to understand that there will be times when we are in the minority, we are drastically different from the people around us, and how they react to us will depend greatly upon how we act while among them?
Blacks in America can’t (and don’t) say they don’t know about “White culture”. The usual issue is that Whites don’t know much about “Black culture”. Which leads Whites to ask some pretty silly questions, make some dumb assumptions, etc. The true test of character, however, is how you handle that. I can’t recall how many times when I was in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and other countries, that I was accosted for being a “gringo imperialista” by the left-leaning students on campus, and bombarded by criticism for the US’s invasion of Panama the year before. Many people rudely attacked me with their extremely biased, bigoted, and completely wrong opinions of Americans in general, and White Americans in particular. I could choose bitterness, resentment and hate. I could choose (as many students did) to turn “anti-American” and lead the vehement attacks on their own country. Or, I could choose to be patient and understanding, and to accept fault where it was deserved, defend myself and my country when necessary, and to do so in non-confrontational methods. I initially joined in the attacks on the country, but with maturity and clarity, I eventually chose the latter.
Blacks at majority White campuses have to make the same choice. They can either be diplomatic representatives of their “people”, or chose to conflict with people. And they have to make a conscious effort to separate well-meant but naïve questions or comments from mean-spirited attacked by bigots.
But if they choose to believe that they are confronting an enemy, that everyone is different and they have nothing in common, that choice will ensure that what they will find is confrontation, misunderstanding, and isolation. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another key area that Obama wanted to explore is what she called “Benefit Attitudes.”
“The second set of dependent variables in this study tries especially to measure the extent to which the respondents were motivated to benefit various social groups…The first variable was designed to provide some idea of how interested the respondents are in positively contributing to the Black community relative to other social groups such as the White community, their families, their occupations.”
This quote was revealing, in that there seems to be an underlying suspicion that, if Blacks study with Whites and get comfortable with them, they’ll no longer care about other Blacks, as if their contact with Whites will turn them “White”, and of course, since we all know that Whites are racists who don’t like Blacks (I’m being sarcastic here, just in case you don’t get it), they are not concerned about Black suffering. Right?
Also, is there a judgment statement being made about a well-educated Black person who places a high value on their occupation? What exactly should we expect from someone who has acquired a very expensive education? Should they turn their backs on their family and financial success and instead go get a low-paying job at a non-profit? This appears to me to be yet another echo of the Marxist bent found within the Liberation Theology. It suggests to me that one of the reasons the Obamas didn’t distance themselves from Pastor Wright might have been—just maybe—because they agreed with him.
It seems to me that there is a subtle hint here that Obama disdains people who actually might want the “good life”, instead of working for the “common good.” This makes sense for the leftists, since socialists like Hugo Chavez and others publicly proclaim that “being rich is evil”, and there is a long line formed among the leftists and Democrats who want to cozy up to Chavez. I wonder if that’s why Barak wanted to meet with Hugo: To talk about how evil it is for everyone (except them) to get rich?
“The second variable …was designed to measure the nature of the respondents’ attitudes …specifically toward members of the lower class [Black] community …it is impossible to help everyone and everything equally at the same time.”
Oh, boy, that’s a rich statement. But you have to look into what she says next to get the full impact:
“Feelings of obligation to improve the life of the Black lower class, feelings of guilt for betraying the Black lower class, as well as feelings of shame or envy toward the Black lower class are investigated in this study.”
Am I mistaken in interpreting her statements that she perceives receiving a good education as “betraying the Black lower class”? Before you disagree, read the question from her survey:
Question # 5. “When you think of lower class Black Americans and the life they lead, how true for you personally are the following statements?
I feel proud that I have been strong enough to avoid remaining in, or falling into, that life.
I feel lucky that I was given opportunities that they are not given.
I feel guilty that I may be betraying them in some way.
I feel ashamed of them; they reflect badly on the rest of us.
I feel their life is more honest than mine; I would become part of it if I could.
I feel obligated to help improve their life.
I feel they must help themselves.
I feel they are the White community’s problem; not mine.
I feel there is no way they can be helped; their situation is hopeless.

Ah, it’s the “you can only serve one master” ploy, eh?
So the idea is beginning to form, that Blacks who go to White schools may internalize “White values”, become less “Black”, become “materialists” or “capitalists” and forget—even betray—poor Blacks. Let’s cut to the quick: if you are Black, and you get a good education, and are comfortable with whites, are you an Uncle Tom? Are you a “House Negro”? Would any respondent actually say “poor blacks are the problem of the White community?”
Again, this is in keeping with the Liberal notion that compassionate people will eschew wealth (because they believe wealth is a zero-sum game), actively promote minorities who are victims of White oppression, and—because conservatives oppose doing this via the mechanism of big government—Liberals therefore conclude that Conservatives are not compassionate and do not care about the poor.
So, if a Black (like Clarence Thomas) is a conservative, and educated at an Ivy League school, how can the Black community relate to such a person?
Remember that I taught at a predominantly Black high school? I had a Black female student that had attended the Million Man March, and while there had the exciting opportunity to meet “with all the Democrats in the NAACP”. I asked her if she met any Republicans in the NAACP, to which she snorted, “You can’t be a Republican and be in the NAACP! We don’t think you can be a Republican and still be Black.” Oh really?
Another interesting passage is when Obama goes through an analysis of the variables, listing things such as the respondent’s originating class, number of books in the household, relationship to God, and even “the race of the person whom the individual most admired…”
I can’t speak for others, but if you asked me whom I admired most as a child, I’d have a hard time coming up with one name. I had many heroes. Now, ask me the same question, but throw in the qualifier “what RACE” was the person I most admired…it adds a whole new dynamic, doesn’t it? The question itself forces the respondent to filter the list of most admired personalities along the lines of race. The question forcibly interjects a discriminatory consideration, and must also trigger a series of emotional responses.
I imagine a black respondent suddenly (and possibly subconsciously) weighing the response: “since I am Black, would it mean I’m a sell-out if I admired a non-Black individual most?” Does that suddenly make a Black candidate suddenly more admirable as a response? How is Obama going to judge a Black individual who admired a white figure (suppose it was a white parent, grandparent, or influential teacher) more than Harriet Tubman or W.E.B. Dubois? Would she take that as proof that the higher educated Black with books has “sold out” to the White culture?
So, remember my statement about the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. There are perfectly good reasons why a respondent might say that their most-admired person was Black before attending University, and White afterward, without actually meaning that the person is no longer proud to be Black or is now unconcerned about Black issues. But if you are determined to see that getting too close to Whites will change you for the worse, guess how you will interpret these responses.
The basic hypothesis of her thesis is that, the longer the Black student spent with Whites, the more comfortable (s)he will feel with them. Duh! You think? Isn’t it obvious that anyone would be uncomfortable around people about whom they know little or nothing and think they have nothing in common? And isn’t it obvious that, over time, people will discover that they are more alike than they thought? Hey, I think we’ve had a breakthrough here!
She goes on to say that
“I also … hypothesize that this sense of comfort with Blacks will be greatest in all the activities measured by this dependent variable except intellectual activities. Intellectually, Blacks may be more comfortable with Whites as a result of a greater amount of exposure to Whites in an academic setting… ”
Essentially, she comes to the conclusion that the Blacks, after so much time at Princeton has forced Blacks “to compete intellectually with Whites more than Blacks”, making them feel more comfortable on “intellectual” terms with Whites than they are with other Blacks.
Whoa. Am I reading that right? The word “competing” implies matching skills. It implies improving those skills to match one’s competitors. The Black student will therefore develop intellectually thanks to their interaction with Whites. Is that what she’s saying? So were they less skilled before meeting Whites on a competitive playing field?
If so, then how would the Black community benefit if the Separationist ideology she appears to support were followed?
Another interpretation might be that the Black students would, by virtue of the close contact with Whites, become intimate with the White mindset and learn that “they aren’t as bad as I thought…” They might become comfortable with Whites when they learn that Whites are not “white devils” after all.
That would come as a shock to the Black Liberation Theology proponents, wouldn’t it? It might be better to keep blacks poor and apart from Whites, in that case, right?
So Blacks would, in the long term, become more comfortable with Whites, but is it really feasible (given this interpretation) that they would become “more comfortable with Whites than with Blacks?” There is a big difference: It is one thing to learn that the people you once scorned as a bunch of racists are actually pretty decent people, and you are comfortable being around them. It’s quite another to get to the point where—intellectually or otherwise—you begin to prefer their company to your “own people”.
Again, I have experience in this area. Being an Anglo, English speaking American, I was originally most comfortable around “my own people” (a silly term, since I’ve never been comfortable around anyone based simply on their race). But by the time I had become totally fluent in Spanish and had lived abroad, then surrounded myself with Latino friends and married a Venezuelan, my Latin friends often remarked that I was “more Latino than Gringo”. And yes, I became more comfortable with some Latinos than with most Anglo-Saxon Americans. The difference was, that I was very comfortable with educated and well travelled Latinos, and uncomfortable with uneducated and closed-minded Whites.
The inferred dilemma in the Obama essay is that this is somehow a betrayal of the Black community. Do you see the contradiction? Whites who learn to feel comfortable among Blacks are not seen as sellouts. Blacks who get an education and feel comfortable with Whites—are no longer Black.
Obama is revealing that she is not above the most basic emotional scarring left over from the trauma of slavery. Let’s boil down the argument to the most basic level: will becoming comfortable with Whites make her an “Uncle Tom” or “House Negro”? Is she suddenly an “Oreo” (Black on the outside, White in the middle)?
Her husband was initially attacked in the early days of his campaign as being too “White”, or at least, “not Black enough”. Mind you, not by Whites, but by Blacks.
This is all part of the not-so-secret but shameful legacy among Blacks, for whom lighter colored skin is often seen as preferable. This is also known as the “paper-bag test”: Young Black men and women were often encouraged by their parents and grandparents to bring home mates whose skin was lighter than a paper bag. This was seen as a step up, especially for their offspring. This is not openly discussed, because it contradicts the “Black Pride” movement. But it is a very real social undercurrent.
This preference simultaneously causes a bit of a shameful reaction… “are we betraying our Blackness? Should we celebrate our Blackness by trying to be as ‘Black’ as possible?” So educated Blacks suddenly become “White”.
When I was a teacher in a predominantly Black inner-urban high school in the rural South, I actually had students killed by other Black students because they thought they were acting “White”, simply because they were trying to get an education and behaved in a way that reflected those different values.
Blackness is at war with itself. Obama’s essay reveals the inner turmoil of that conflict, and the emotional strains placed on her as she tries to alleviate those feelings. Achieving a great education is wonderful. But does it make her less Black? Can she counter the feelings of guilt and betrayal by obsessively trying to benefit “less fortunate Blacks”? She says, on page 20 of her essay, that
“…Blacks who are more comfortable with Whites than with Blacks will probably be less interested in benefitting the Black community…The more respondents spend time with Blacks, the more positive and compassionate they will be in their attitudes towards lower class Black Americans…”
This argument is precisely the reasoning behind the vicious and bigoted attacks on Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas that would start in 1991, when President G. Bush (4I) nominated him to replace Thurgood Marshall. Thomas was a conservative Black. He spoke clear English without a hint of “Ebonics” and took the stand that Blacks had to accept individual responsibility for their own successes.
Clearly, considering Obama’s rhetoric, she would see Thomas through the prism of her opinion that, because Thomas did not believe that government was the solution for Black suffering, he therefore had spent too much time with Whites, was more comfortable with Whites than Blacks, and no longer was compassionate toward lower class Blacks.
None of which is necessarily true. Because the primary argument is that dependency on Government does not teach independence and does not strengthen the community, but contrarily weakens it.
The results
Her study did find that most of the respondents reported spending more time with Whites post-Princeton than pre-Princeton, or rather, a drop of time spent with other blacks from 61% to 39%. The number of respondents who actually made a change to spend more time with Blacks was 15%.
It should be noted, that no distinction was made in the study to account for the fact that Princeton graduates are very likely to work in prestigious companies which would tend to be predominantly White or mixed, but at any rate would obviously increase their contact with Whites. So the study does not account for whether that increase of contact was due to choice or as a result of work.
An interesting result of the study shows that a significant number of Blacks studying at Princeton experienced a change of opinion about “separationist” beliefs during the period they studied there. While 26% of them were strongly separationist before attending Princeton, this number increased to 40%. But after graduation, this ideology decreased to 31%. A bias in the reporting should be noted: The study states that Black respondents reported Separationist ideologies ranging from 26%, 40%, and finally 31%. The study could just as easily state the percentages of Black respondents reported non-separationist or integrationist percentages, or both equally. But that was not the angle the author chose. Her focus is more upon separationists, and only in passing does she state that the number of respondents who changed toward integrationist ideologies rose from 16% to 32%.
Obama also states that “the percentage of respondents who were motivated to benefit the Black community increased from 46% at the Pre-Princeton point to 64% at Post-Princeton.”
With regard to the “comfort level” of Blacks with other Blacks after a Princeton education, she found that
“the 26% of the respondents who were comfortable with Blacks rose to 37% from Pre-Princeton to Princeton, and then dropped back to 22% during the post-Princeton point.”
The intellectual comfort indicator showed predictable changes.
“During the Princeton to Post-Princeton period…only 10% [were] more comfortable with Blacks while 31% became more comfortable with Whites.”
The primary assumption she makes is that the comfort level felt by the respondents has to do with the amount of time the respondent spent with other Blacks during the Princeton and Post-Princeton years. Interestingly, no mention is given to the idea that the comfort level might have to do with values, changes of values, and the possibility that an educated person, regardless as to race, will have different values than an uneducated person. So educated Blacks may feel more comfortable with educated Whites than with uneducated Blacks, but the inverse can also be said: educated Whites would prefer the company of educated Blacks over that of uneducated Whites.
The preference may have little or nothing to do with race.
At one point in her essay, she makes a couple of interesting admissions:
“…However, it is conceivable that my four years of exposure to a predominantly White, Ivy League University has instilled in me certain conservative values. For example, …I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates—acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals after Princeton are not as clear as before.”
Why does Obama say that her “goals after Princeton are not as clear as before”? What is so “unclear” about gaining such a great education and finding herself striving for many of the same goals as her White classmates? A great Post Graduate degree, a great job: does she think that these things are the antithesis of being Black?
“These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow …will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White culture and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.”

Ah, could this be the sentiment that explains Michelle's statement about never being proud of her country? It appears to explain a lot. Despite her great education, she was convinced that this innately racist country would never allow her to play a critical and central role in its future. But now that she sees Whites voting for her husband, she can allow herself to feel proud of the nation again.

It might be, Michelle, that the nation was great even before you belatedly realized it.

When we consider the stated ideology of the “Separationists”, I am stricken first by how similar the arguments of these Black sociologists parallel the segregationist desires of the racist whites in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This ideology was the same that express itself as “separate but equal”, especially when applied to schools, and seemed to be in direct conflict with segments of the society—led by such men as Martin Luther King—that fought for desegregation.
I also find it somewhat ironic that the separationist ideology on the one hand feel the need to keep apart from society, and then complain that they will never “become a full participant.” How do you reconcile that? And if you admit that the Black students benefitted by having to compete with White students at Princeton, then wouldn’t that suggest that the integrationist ideology again makes more sense?

As long as Blacks think that economic and educational success is a “White” ambition, then Blacks will forever remain “on the periphery”. This is not a problem that Government, or Whites, or anyone but Blacks can solve. It is the same problem that Bill Cosby and Juan Williams are aggressively addressing.

It is not a betrayal of the Black community to seek success.

It is a betrayal to perpetuate the belief that success means you have suddenly stopped being Black. Because the inverse statement to that is that failure is a Black trait.

If the Obamas really want to give us Change we can believe in, then this is the message that the Obamas need to address.

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