The Most Poignant Photo of Michelle Obama You've Ever Seen

Illustration for article titled The Most Poignant Photo of Michelle Obama You've Ever Seen

First Lady Michelle Obama and Stephanie Kyriazis, Chief of Interpretation and Education, mirror the past of segregation in a photo released by the White House. The image was taken on May 16th of this year during a tour of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. It feels a bit cliche, but this is a truly compelling photo, both of Michelle Obama, and depicting race in America.

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We often talk about the importance of having the Obamas in the White House for reasons that go beyond just the political. Many tend to forget how recently systems like slavery and segregation were in place in this country. Just fifty years ago, our First Lady would not have been allowed to use the same bathroom as the woman she is facing.

When people talk about the impact of just the visual of the Obamas—simply seeing them occupy spaces that no other people of color, black or otherwise have ever been in in America, they're talking about images like this.

Image via White House Flickr

DISCUSSION

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Michelle Obama is on the cover of Essence, which we have displayed on our library shelves. Just a few hours ago, my white co-worker felt it necessary to come complain to me why "they" could have a magazine with only all black people but "we" couldn't have one with only white people (why she thought that was an acceptable thing to share with me...?).

This lady got me my job. She also worked with my mom at one time. She has my back with a problem colleague. She's lived overseas in other countries. She has a master's degree and we work in a college.

All I could think of to do was to sweep my arm around the whole of the library and say, "ALL of the other [30+] magazines are all about white people". She changed the subject.

Sorry to make this all about me. I just don't understand people, and I'm so tired of living in the South. Maybe other areas aren't as bad (I grew up overseas so I don't know), but there seems to be such an intrenched ignorance here...