Beyond Michelle Obama’s Arms: Media Portrayals of the World’s Most Visible African American Woman
Ryann Michelle Alexander
Boyce Davies, Carole Elizabeth
Thesis DT 3.5 2011 A469
xi, 123 leaves : color illustrations ; 28 cm.
This thesis is a study of media portrayals of Michelle Obama, the most visible African American woman in the world. This subject is important because black women have a unique history of experiences ranging from being the first documented beings on the planet, to keen dehumanization and oppression based along racial, gender, social, and class lines. Because the United States is a world superpower and African Americans' role in building this dominance and wealth has been key, images disseminated from the US about African American women are essential in assigning meaning and conveying messages about the group's humanity in an increasingly globalized and media-inundated world. Through this thesis I have attempted to document several of the most prevalent incidents, occurrences, and images covered by media outlets in respect to Michelle Obama beginning with President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate win in November, 2004, through the first year of the Obama Presidency ending in January, 2010. In this, questions of how Mrs. Obama has been portrayed, who disseminated which images, and their motives for doing so were probed. Additionally, conclusions were drawn about some messages Michelle Obama herself has circulated through interviews and speeches.
In covering media tides and depictions, a critical analysis of the information broadcast, as well as the significance of Michelle Obama in a political, cultural, social, and ideological context were read. The import of her role in Barack Obama's political career and Presidency was also explored. Moreover, Mrs. Obama's meaning amongst varying sectors of the United States population, as well as her reception abroad, were detailed.
Lastly, a historical analysis of black women's representations in Western ideology and media was explored. This was done so in an attempt to further indicate the importance of continued critical examination of media images of black women, and ways in which Michelle Obama fits into this history.