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The Obama PhenomenonToward a Multiracial Democracy$
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Charles P. Henry, Robert L. Allen, and Robert Chrisman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036453

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036453.001.0001

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Too Black and Too Strong

Too Black and Too Strong

First Lady Michelle Obama

(p.236) Fourteen Too Black and Too Strong
The Obama Phenomenon

Ula Y. Taylor

University of Illinois Press

This chapter attempts to engage the racist assumptions held by many Americans about a black woman's ability to be First Lady and about the appropriateness of an African American First Family. Michelle Obama has been an essential complement to Barack Obama, a candidate viewed as a postracial phenomenon. She has helped her husband win the credibility and trust of many African Americans because of her firm and confident racial identity, her rootedness in Chicago's African American community, and her upholding of the values central to her own family. However, functioning as the perfect partner to Barack has come at an enormous price for Michelle. It seems an all too familiar paradox that given the persistent power of racial and gender dynamics in this country, Michelle Obama must button down her exceptional education and career background, and the “too much blackness” so essential to her identity, in order to secure Barack's presidential bid.

Keywords:   Michelle Obama, black women, racism, Barack Obama, African American first family, racial identity

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