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Monday, August 25, 2008

"Relax--She's a Brady Bunch Black"

Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park tonight with an impassioned, heartfelt, convincing speech. And her Mom's narration of the video struck just the right tone--that friendly old black lady you admire for instilling the "right" values in her family. What stuck out to me, though, was her brother's reference to her memorizing every episode of The Brady Bunch growing up. Not Flip Wilson, not Good Times, not even the Mod Squad or I Spy or All in the Family. TV never got more whitebread than the Brady Bunch--Southern California suburbia, where the weekly crisis was not how to get food on the table or dealing with hatred or injustice, but that darned pimple that pops out just before the school dance, or the voice that squeaks while going through the adolescent change. The message? She's safe, she's one of us. She's not militant. She memorized her idol Marcia Brady, not Malcolm. For a minute, I even saw Marcia reflected in Michelle's neatly coifed hair curling up to her chin on either side, shimmering as she shook with passion. (I guess it'll be another 50 years before an African-American woman with a natural can be seen as an acceptable First Lady candidate. Or a hundred...)

It's not just bigots that speak in coded language. The message tonight to middle America was clear: Don't worry--she's not THAT kind of Negro--you can trust her, and trust that she would have never MARRIED THAT kind of Negro, either, so he's all right, too, by association.

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