Quite frankly, I blame Michelle Obama. Here we have a First Lady of the United States of America (code name Renaissance) who dared show the world that Black women are comfortable in their own skin. She didn’t fit into any of the socially constructed identities previously created for women of color—no Jezebel, Mammy, Welfare Queen or Sapphire to be found on or near her person. The resulting confusion led to women of color holding their heads just a little bit higher.

When little Brown and Black girls see themselves positively reflected on an international platform, something changes in the atmosphere. Somehow it becomes easier to refute the Welfare Queen image when a sista from the Southside resides in the White House. Her public speaking skills rendered Sapphire irrelevant. Watching the FLOTUS protect her daughters erased any notion of Mammy leaving her own kids to care for someone else’s and while many of us admire her physique, her display of loyalty for Renegade (POTUS) leaves no room to conjure up images of Jezebel. Welfare Queen? Try Harvard Law.

She is everything the world tells us we are not—intelligent, beautiful, confident, and valuable. So whose fault is it that little Black girls are running around thinking the world is theirs for the taking? I blame Michelle Obama. And if it’s time we started creating our own identities, I’m thinking “Michelle” is a pretty good place to start.

What are your suggestions for self-created identities?

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