Michelle Obama uses stereotypes to rip “White people”

Michelle Obama uses stereotypes to rip “White people”
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Michelle Obama uses stereotypes to rip “White people”

Michelle Obama criticized “White folks” (White people) accusing them of racism. But isn’t the use of broad stroke descriptions a form of stereotyping, too. And when you make them negative, isn’t that racism? Obama didn’t talk about the African Americans who participated and profited from White Flight because it doesn’t fit her narrative of blaming “White Folks” for society’s problems.

By Ray Hanania

Last week, former First Lady Michelle Obama made a blistering attack against “White people” in remarks to a nearly all Black audience at the 3rd annual Obama Foundation Summit hosted by former President Barack Obama.

Mrs. Obama was speaking about “White Flight,” a phenomena that took place in the late 1960s and the “scarring” affects that it had on her and her community.

“I can’t make people not afraid of Black people. I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t explain what’s happening in your head,” Mrs. Obama said. “I want to remind white folks [White People] that y’all were running from us. And you’re still running.”

Oprah Winfrey joins Michelle and Barack Obama in 2007. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Oprah Winfrey joins Michelle and Barack Obama in 2007. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Her comments about “ya’ll,” “White Folks” (meaning White people) were published by all the news media including The Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, CNN, Time, and even BBC.

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I was offended by them. When you refer to an entire race of people, it’s called “stereotyping.” When you do it in a pejorative manner, it’s called “racism.”

I know something about “White Flight.” I lived on a block where one of the first African American families rented a home to intentionally help break up the community.

Oh yea, Michelle Obama didn’t speak about that aspect of “White Flight” in which African American families were recruited by the realtors to fear monger White homeowners. This happened after months of racial tension and violence swept Chicagoland following the murder on April 4, 1968 of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

These African American families didn’t hesitate to rent properties assigned to them by the realtors. The family on our block had a disabled daughter who walked up and down the street every day screaming and crying and making all kinds of noises. It was tragic and painful to see. But they let her do it.

The new family put lawn chairs on their front lawn and sat there most of the evenings staring at their new neighbors.

It never occurred to me that this fear mongering was a process used by realtors to make huge profits, which they shared with their accomplices, African American families who participated in the scheme.

Soon, nearly 85 percent of the White families living in South Shore Valley (Calumet Heights) sold their homes, some moving in the middle of the night because of their shame. The realtors said if they didn’t move, they would lose all the money they invested in their middle class homes, and that surely frightened them more than race.

But that’s not what Michele Obama spoke about in her blistering attack against “ya’ll” “White Folks,” the role African Americans played in making White Flight a reality.

You know how those “White folks” can be?

The irony is the area wasn’t really so “White.” Next door to our west was Pill Hill, a wealthier community. Pill Hill, the rich neighborhood, had many Black families, doctors and lawyers. One of the most famous was Cubs First Baseman Ernie Banks.

All the kids from Pill Hill went to school with all the kids from South Shore Valley. We all got along, until some realtor and a few African American families used fear mongering in 1969 to tell us we shouldn’t.

Mrs. Obama’s family, the Robinsons, moved in further south in South Shore Valley near the church where my Boy Scout troop met each week. Black and White kids all working together building cars for the Soap Box Derby, camping together, sharing the same food and tents, and singing songs of harmony as we walked the Hiawatha Trail to earn our medals.

Maybe Mrs. Obama didn’t know all that because her parents, the Robinsons, moved in and bought their home cheaper during “White Flight” than during any other time.

It’s so easy to stereotype people, and lecture other entire races to make your political points, sell your books and raise funds for your Foundation. It’s all a part of the hypocrisy of the Obama’s that the major mainstream news media chaperones in their one-sided reporting.

Racism against African Americans sells, makes heroes and creates political power bases. Racism against “ya’ll,” “White Folks” is intended to create shame, an acceptable form of racist profiteering.

(You can read Ray Hanania’s online book “Midnight Flight” by visiting www.SuburbanChicagoland.com. This column was published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group on Wednesday Nov. 6, 2019.)

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

Click here to listen to Ray's Political Podcast. 

Hanania's columns are archived on his personal website at RayHanania.com. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.
Ray Hanania

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