Yesterday, the New York Times ran a piece on Michelle Obama's connection to slavery. Using old public records, fading photos, and recollections of older family members, the New York Times, along with genealogist Megan Smolenyak, uncovered details that fully connect the first lady to the history of slavery for the first time. While the piece was captivating, some worry that it was not appropriate.
The issue of race in America's past and present is undoubtedly a sensitive subject. Many Americans, including African-Americans, want to celebrate the Obamas' path to the White House, and the story about Michelle Obama's slave roots helps shed light on just how far our society has come. In addition, the fact that Michelle's great-great-great-grandfather was white might remind this diverse country that we share a common past. Yet other people feel that the independent piece on her heritage violates her privacy or focuses on her race when the Obamas have made it clear that they want to move past it.
The first lady has declined to comment on the article due to its personal nature. Now that Michelle Obama is first lady, is it fair for the public to take an interest in her genealogy, or was this piece in bad taste?