[DNC] Michelle’s Neighborhood

By Kim McLarin | TheRoot.com

Many Americans are waiting for Barack, but Michelle’s place on stage may represent a greater transcendence.

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Aug. 25, 2008–The great Toni Morrison once said in an interview that whenever she bumped up against some incident of racial exclusion or insult as a child, her father would shield his daughter’s tender heart by reminding her, “You don’t live in that neighborhood. That is not your home.”

When Michelle Obama takes the stage as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention tonight, I will think of those words, which pierced me when first I read them. Because of all the remarkable things about this remarkable woman who may become our first lady, what seems most remarkable to me is that Michelle Obama clearly lives in no one’s neighborhood but her own.

I’m not suggesting that this is a new or singular accomplishment. Zora Neale Hurston had the same kind of vibe going on, and that was decades ago. Hurston, like Obama, was entirely her own woman, utterly herself. She wrote, famously, “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?”

I, myself, know legions of beautiful black women who stand secure and confident in who they are and what they bring to the world. But for most of us, such self-possession is an accomplishment, one very few arrived at easily or overnight.

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