Recently, in a People magazine interview promoting her new gardening book, first lady Michelle Obama was asked whom she would be if she could be anyone. Her answer, to the chagrin of Loop21 writer Kelli Goff, was Beyoncé. Apparently, the first lady's admiration for the singer — with her sparkling leotards and chart-topping hits — is grounds enough for Mrs. Obama's fans to disown her, and her husband by proxy, in the voting booth come November.
So when the most influential black woman in the world, armed with degrees from some of the best institutions in the world, names Beyonce, a singer best known for a song called “Bootylicious,” as someone she aspires to be, how can we expect young black girls who didn't go to Princeton to aspire to more than that?
Which brings me to the second reason many found the First Lady's response troubling. With her ill chosen remarks Michelle Obama helped affirm one of the most enduring and troublesome stereotypes that every single teacher in a low income, predominantly minority community must battle against every time he or she sets foot in a classroom: The stereotype that the greatest aspiration these children should hold is to be an entertainer, an athlete or rapper (or perhaps an entertainer who marries a rapper).
Read Kelli Goff's entire piece at Loop21.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.