Chapter 4

Motherhood: Between Mammy and a Hard Place

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that her most important role in the White House is “mom-in-chief.”1

Some white feminists weren’t having it.

What was up with this Ivy League–trained, corporate legal powerhouse making like a political wifebot? As writer Libby Copeland lamented on Slate magazine’s Double X blog, “Why are presidential candidates’ wives all the same?”2

Except Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, from the South Side of Chicago, ain’t Laura Bush. Or even Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama is a black woman. And her ability to prioritize motherhood—much less be the symbol of motherhood for a nation—is revolutionary.

Black women are not the inheritors ...

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