Commentary: Understanding Michelle Obama's Beautiful, Bold Belief That Black Girls Rock!

Michelle Obama

Commentary: Understanding Michelle Obama's Beautiful, Bold Belief That Black Girls Rock!

A few things her conservative haters need to understand.

Published April 1, 2015

First read this: Oh, you're a wonderful girl. Even though you get lots of messages from the media and TV and movies and maybe even your teachers that you're not great, beautiful or deserving of chances and opportunities, you are amazing. In fact, you're just as amazing and smart as everyone else.

Then read this one: Oh, you're a wonderful girl. Even though you get lots of messages from the media and TV and movies and maybe even your teachers that you're not great, beautiful or deserving of chances and opportunity, you are amazing. And because you're smart and amazing, that means no one else is — only you.

Now a quiz: Which is an example of expansive thinking? And which is a display of a narrow-minded, closed off way of viewing the world?

If you chose “a” as an example of expansive, positive thinking, congratulate yourself! And know that you're in good company. You feel the same way as Beverly Bond, the DJ who created Black Girls Rock! in 2006 as a youth empowerment mentoring organization. And you’re also in the same company as Michelle Obama, who took time out of her Saturday night of fabulous living to attend the taping of this year’s Black Girls Rock! celebration, which airs on BET on April 5. While wearing the best off-the-shoulder dress to ever be worn by a first lady, she opened up about the doubts that plagued her growing up and how she “decided to rise.” She also told the crowd, “No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful."

Good stuff, right? Yes, if you believe that Black girls deserve role models and icons and speeches — not to mention an entire night of red carpet feel good and celebration — to remind them that they are incredible in a world that sometimes seems to be rushing to tell them that they are lesser than. They need reminders like Obama to combat the damaging effects of a society that can wreak havoc on Black girl self-esteem.  

But, going back to the quiz, say you chose “b.” Say you think that singling out Black girls is to the exclusion of other groups. If you feel that way, you also have company, though it is not as illustrious as Michelle Obama. It is conservative pundits and the legions of people who left messages on the first lady’s Instagram page about how disappointed they were in her for “alienating” (said one commenter) other girls. And those who took to Twitter to say she was being racist and how there would be a “riot” if Laura Bush had said “White girls rock!”

In a perfect world where racism and sexism did not collide dangerously to give Black girls less opportunities, in a world where Black girls are tracked to the worst classes in school and paid less in the jobs they get when they are older than other groups, in a perfect world these current realities would not exist. But until that day, let’s all be like the first lady and make “Black girls rock!” our battle cry as we prepare to fight for better.


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Written by Ayana Byrd

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