The Washington Post today published an article by a reporter who is not a member of the editorial staff suggesting in no uncertain terms that those who criticize First Lady Michelle Obama for holding too much weight in her derriere are racist.
While opening her article by reporting an obviously insulting remark by a high school football coach, reporter Krissah Thompson goes on to write statements and include quotes indicating a general racist intent on the part of those who find Michelle to be overweight if they believe she has excess weight in her posterior.
From the article:
But what is it with Michelle Obama’s critics and the fixation with her derriere?
“We have a history in this country of white people not showing adequate respect for and devaluing the bodies of black women, and this most definitely falls in line with that,” says Ayana Byrd, the co-editor of the anthology “Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts . . . ”
The first lady’s critics “are reacting to the culture in which they’ve grown up or they are using it as a code to racialize Michelle Obama and remind people that she’s black,” says Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.
In her own analysis, Thompson, who covers race issues for the post, links comments about Michelle’s posterior to slavery.
The focus on this first lady’s posterior has historical antecedents. It reaches back to the imagery of Hottentot Venus, a woman from what is now South Africa whose naked body and pronounced posterior were paraded in shows throughout 19th-century Europe. On to the selling and trading of black women’s bodies through slavery.
Without question, some mentions of Michelle’s posterior are animated by racism and racial stereotyping. But the article suggests that any reference to the size of a portion of Mrs. Obama’s anatomy is racist.
The article includes no quotes or commentary that might provide balance by raising the topic of whether it is fair to discuss the first lady’s own weight as she leads a campaign to reduce the amount of fat kids are carrying around.
The piece also indicates a political bias in favor of the first lady and her agenda, calling a criticism of her Let’s Move program “the latest public rant” against low calorie lunches in schools that features “the usual protest against the federal government meddling in local business.”