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Should Michelle Obama Be Supporting African American Designers?

With just a couple days into her reign as the First Lady, Michelle Obama is already starting to feel the pressures of her position. Amnau Eele, former model and co-founder of the Black Artists Association, is filing a formal appeal to the First Lady’s office on behalf of the BAA. The charge? They're mad at her for not wearing anything by an African American designer at her inaugural appearances.

“It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment,” said Eele. There's no doubt the First Lady has a lot of responsibilities to uphold but should her fashion choices be one of them?

(L-R: Designs by Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, and Isabel Toledo)

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reactionary reactionary 7 years
i just read this article again out of curiosity, and i just think we should reiterate the obama's official stance on the country in which they live, and which they represent: "There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." someone above said it perfectly when they said that michelle is not the first lady of black america. she is the first lady of the UNITED states of america. ALL OF US. regardless of our race! i am half irish norwegian, half portguese indian. michelle obama is my first lady too. she's my first lady just as much as she is the first lady of amnau eele. michelle obama is the first lady of my chinese friends, my hispanic friends, my indian friends, the boy from haiti down the hallway from me, the europeans, filipinos, arabs, and she represents every single human being who lives in this country. not JUST black people. there ARE other races. black people are NOT the only ones who are or have been suppressed in this country. she represents ALL OF US. and we are doing a huge injustice to not only her, but to ourselves, by allowing this petty issue to get in the way of the first best hope that we have for our country at the moment. let michelle and barack do what they need to do and let us try for once not to see the world as colorless but to see it as colorFUL, and remember that the salad mixing bowl of our country makes for an amazing salad simply because of all the different elements that are there. it was OUR moment. OUR as in AMERICA. all of it. i wish people would stop trying to split us apart in a time during which we should be trying harder than ever to stand together!
Chim Chim 7 years
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?! War, High percentage of unemployment, High percentage of home foreclosures and overal low morale in the US economy, Uncured diseases...and THIS IS WHAT THEY FUSS ABOUT????
ksindustryexec ksindustryexec 7 years
there are good and bad things from even my most favourite designers, i tend to chose a favourite designer based on consistancy of likeness to my own style. she maybe fell in love with that dress and then was like, who designed it? Fashion is about peices as much as lables, lets not forget that. Now that isnt to say that a remarkable peice isnt nameless, but when she is wearing it.. it becomes hers. These outfits WERE her moment, and as for social concience? Read the news. As long as she has her own style, and her own taste, I think she may choose her favourite peices rather than the face (or colour of the face) of the designer behind them.
equestriennechic equestriennechic 7 years
They're only complaining because she's gotten so much good attention for her fashion choices! This is ridiculous.
nguidjol nguidjol 7 years
Why Africa Americans think they are the only minority in American? What about Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders etc... She is the first lady of USA not the first lady of Black America, she is representing all Americans, not only AA. Some people need to get over themselves Why can't you just be happy that she wore a fellow American design? And all those black people who are whining and complaining are not really listening to President Obama's message, and that's a shame!
Taadie Taadie 7 years
I would like to see her in some Tracey Reese but only because I think that would be right up her alley. Other than that, make something she would want to wear and stop stressing about it.
StyleBlip StyleBlip 7 years
I can't believe that they would go to that extent. They are contradicting everything that African Americans have been fighting for. They should feel ashamed.
mecita mecita 7 years
Mrs. Obama looked amazing at every event - beautiful. This is a silly discussion. Our community has many more substantive issues - this is a silly distraction.
MissBlaze44 MissBlaze44 7 years
As a black woman I'm apalled by this whole thing. It was First Lady, Michelle Obama's time to shine - not these BLACK designers. The First Lady wore dresses from the designer of HER choice and wore what SHE was comfortable in. She beautiful and graceful. Let's concentrate on the change that this new administration is trying to set-forth instead of thinking that everything they do need be saturated in BLACKNESS!!!
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 7 years
This is stupid! Michelle should be able to wear any designer she wants. Should white people only wear white designers? What a dangerous trend to promote!
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 7 years
She can wear what she wants. Why put her in a box?
juliarose23 juliarose23 7 years
its ridiculous that anyone would speculate that, she should wear designs from whoever makes the best clothes, regardless of the race of the designer
Fiend Fiend 7 years
If Michelle wore only African American Designers when she would have caught alot of flack for catering to only the AA community. WHat she did was the best thing: she wore little known (excluding Narcisso R, i spelled his name wrong i know im sorry, too lazy to scroll up for correct spellling) designers who happen just happend to be of color (cuban-american and asian) which definitely wouldnt cause any controversy. Because if you remember, Mccain's wife caught flack for wearing high end designers while the country was suffering so Michelle couldnt suddenly go that route, it would make all her previous choices seem planned and not effortless and natural.
Danz Danz 7 years
Honestly, Eele's argument just seems so petty. I think if Michelle found a black designer whose pieces were to her liking, she would have gladly worn them. Think about it, her husband just made history as the first African-American president of the United States of America yet she chooses to purposely snub black designers? Doesn't make sense.
sloane220 sloane220 7 years
@belladande-thank you. one of the most intelligent responses that i've read so far. @pixelhaze- are you serious? just bringing up the fact that FACTUALLY there is still racism and that there negative things that a racist society produces, means that i have a chip on my shoulder? no, i would say that it means i'm well informed and not falling for the okey-doke. just because i know what kind of society i live in, doesn't mean i don't have any kind of hope or ambition of somewhat overcoming systematic racism and sexism, otherwise i wouldn't bother trying to educate myself at all, trying to get up the coporate ladder as much as i can during my lifetime, or participating civically in society, i would just sit and let society screw me over. and quite frankly, it would be absolutely absurd to say that african-americans have some kind of monopoly on oppression, and i know that in everything i've written i never said that, nor would i ever say that. so don't twist the meaning of what I'VE said to make your arguement. now if you have a problem with the fact that i discussed african-americans and racism, the original question was concerning african americans and so that's who discussed. LOL. sue me for staying on topic. and when the issue racism in south africa was raised i chose to respond to that with facts. we don't live in a post-racial world, and acts of racism are NOT quite as isolated as maybe you'd like to think. they're more like systematic and sometimes in manifests itself in a brutal way. but if you've REALLY read anything i wrote, i am in no way advocating an us vs. them mentality, i advocate social awareness, intellectual curiousity, and respect paid to our disparate histories, cultures, and situations. in essence, education and effort. and there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with that. as for president obama, never discussing his race he was FORCED to confront it at some point because we do live in a racist society. remember this speech? http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/03/18/us/politics/20080318_OBAMA_GRAPHIC.html#. he also brought up the issue of race and discrimination the night he was elected and in his inaugaral address. another thing, being asked to adjust my tone because others chose to mistake my conviction as aggression has absolutely nothing to do with me, but the other person, and it's annoying. as rudely as others have completely dismissed that there's some validity to the baa's appeal, why hasn't anybody asked them to correct their tone. gee, maybe it's not how i'm saying that bothers people, it's what i'm saying. sorry if i've burst some people's, post racial bubble, but a black man was lynched 11 years ago, black people were attacked the day after barack obama was elected, and an unarmed black man was shot in the back in oakland 2 weeks ago, leading to a riot that looked like the start of the l.a. riots part deux. my point was if these things can happen, then gosh, it's entirely in the realm of possiblity that talented african-american designers don't get as much recognition and support from the infrastructure of a racist society as they deserve, and that maybe it would've been nice for the first african-american first lady to wear the design of at least one african-american designer on inaguration day.
belladande belladande 7 years
And I want to point to Tabloid's comments in both this post and the "My Black is Beautiful" post on BellaSugar as examples of why these posts can be a problem. I like that posts on race and social issues regarding beauty, fashion, etc. are showing up here, and I'm glad that I feel like I can freely post my opinions as long as I'm respectful. I just hope the moderators of this site are prepared for people who won't like it and aren't going to sugarcoat their feelings, so to speak. There are others who won't recognize the importance of the issues and attempt to downplay them all as bitching and moaning over nothing or jokes (see the "chip on your shoulder" comment, which loosely translates to "uppity negro"), leaving those who do understand or feel strongly about them to lose their cool trying to be understood, which is what I think happened with Sloane220. And still others will simply be racists who won't give a damn what they say or how it affects the community. I like it here, but I won't stay if being here becomes an uphill battle to explain why race and issues surrounding it are still important. We didn't just vote race and racism off the Earth with that election, and if we can't figure out how to talk about it perhaps it's best elsewhere. That or try to be more aware of which race topics are easier to digest.
belladande belladande 7 years
This was extremely poorly played, Team Sugar. All of this is ridiculous. The complaint by the Black Artists Association, the responses to the post (I am noting that far more people respond to when there is an opening to bash when an issue concerns African Americans than to praise or dialogue), and the and maybe even post itself. Perhaps some background on the BAA would have helped. I personally don't consider the inaugural ball a "black moment," but I understand why others might. I also understand why some people wouldn't be able to grasp why this could be important (although I am having a hard time even wanting validate this complaint). But unfortunately, there are those who will use the supposed silliness of an issue like this one to openly bash the idea of race or ethnicity being a factor in ANY discussion. In fact, I disagree that ethnicity had nothing to do with her decisions and took note that Jason Wu is Asian American (as did many proud Asians and Asian Americans: http://www.8asians.com/2009/01/21/jason-wu-designer-of-michelle-obamas-inaugural-ball-gown/ http://www.channelapa.com/2009/01/jason-wu-michelle-obamas-inauguration.html http://www.asianewsnet.net/news.php?id=3586). And few stories about Isabel Toledo left out that she is Cuban born: (http://www.latina.com/fashion/news/michelle-obama-chooses-isabel-toledo-and-narciso-rodriguez-inauguration-dresses http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1872763,00.html?imw=Y http://www.hispanictips.com/2009/01/20/isabel-toledo-the-cuban-born-designer-of-michelle-obamas-inaugural-outfit-did-not-know-positively-until-tuesday-morning-if-the-new-first-lady-would-wear-the-lemongrass-yellow-coat-and-matching-dre/) I think the Obamas were very aware of the message they were sending out about this being a more inclusive administration hoping to create a more inclusive society by having so many cultures represented in the festivities - including Mrs. Obama's outfits, which everyone knows would be discussed to the nth degree. Or maybe not. But it's okay either way. This not not a colorblind, race-free world, and it's a far better idea to celebrate everyone's contributions, no matter how minor, than to attempt to whitewash everything into a "race doesn't matter" oblivion. .
Community-Manager Community-Manager 7 years
Please remember to respect everyone's opinion, even if it is not something you agree with - personal attacks are not allowed. Thanks!
pixelhaze pixelhaze 7 years
Sloane, from your comments you have a huge chip on your shoulder. Bringing up the treatment of SOME elderly in South Africa, or the shooting in California, or a lynching from 11 years ago? Injustices occur all over the world, to people of all races, ages, and sexes, and do you really think that's ALL that's going on in the world for African Americans? You apparently haven't heard that people of color are CEOs, icons in music and movies, that Beyonce sang at the inaugural ball and that A MAN OF AFRICAN DESCENT WAS CHOSEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Did you also hear that that man in so doing united the world, and that people in almost every country are celebrating and looking forward to a brighter future. And let me tell you, they are not doing it because of the color of his skin, but because they believe in him. You are going to be angry and bitter for the rest of your life if you don't get past your us vs them mentality and instead choose to follow President Obama's example. Remember that he made a strict effort to never make an issue of his race instead focusing on demonstrating what he could do, and now he is one of the most powerful men in the world. I am not American, but I am telling you this as a woman of color. Trust me, being aggressive is nothing but counterproductive.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 7 years
Sloane, from your comments you have a huge chip on your shoulder. Bringing up the treatment of SOME elderly in South Africa, or the shooting in California, or a lynching from 11 years ago? Injustices occur all over the world, to people of all races, ages, and sexes, and do you really think that's ALL that's going on in the world for African Americans? You apparently haven't heard that people of color are CEOs, icons in music and movies, that Beyonce sang at the inaugural ball and that A MAN OF AFRICAN DESCENT WAS CHOSEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Did you also hear that that man in so doing united the world, and that people in almost every country are celebrating and looking forward to a brighter future. And let me tell you, they are not doing it because of the color of his skin, but because they believe in him. You are going to be angry and bitter for the rest of your life if you don't get past your us vs them mentality and instead choose to follow President Obama's example. Remember that he made a strict effort to never make an issue of his race instead focusing on demonstrating what he could do, and now he is one of the most powerful men in the world. I am not American, but I am telling you this as a woman of color. Trust me, being aggressive is nothing but counterproductive.
DarlingDA DarlingDA 7 years
Maybe she was just looking at the designs and not the designers? Wouldn't it be racist to pick a black designer solely on the basis of their skin color? And I really take offense to the fact that Eele believes it is "our moment" - wasn't this election about unity and bringing the country together? Obama is EVERYONE'S PRESIDENT, not just one race's.
DarlingDA DarlingDA 7 years
Maybe she was just looking at the designs and not the designers? Wouldn't it be racist to pick a black designer solely on the basis of their skin color?And I really take offense to the fact that Eele believes it is "our moment" - wasn't this election about unity and bringing the country together? Obama is EVERYONE'S PRESIDENT, not just one race's.
chow chow 7 years
it really is one of the dumbest complaints i've heard. as long as she's presentable, who cares who she's wearing? "'That was our moment,' said Eele" -- No, it was OUR moment.
chow chow 7 years
it really is one of the dumbest complaints i've heard. as long as she's presentable, who cares who she's wearing? "'That was our moment,' said Eele" -- No, it was OUR moment.
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