As the Obamas take their place as the nation’s First Family in the White House as well as history, they are also apparently stepping into the role of ‘model African American family.’ A recent CNN article (see below) articulates the positive possibilities for the African American community in seeing a loving and stable Black family. Though the media’s portrayal of African Americans has been caricatured and stereotyped as hypersexualized, welfare mothers, drug addicts, and gang members, the Obama family alone cannot ultimately change these images. The article claims that perhaps the Obamas as a role model could inspire changes within Black families themselves, in the ways that men treat women, in the appreciation of darker skin colors, in being married. Arguably, the Obamas have been a source for inspiration for the African American community in particular but it would seem somewhat demeaning and utopian to assume that the image of one family could alter the structural, cultural, and economic circumstances that have affected this population. As Patricia Hill Collins notes, the status of Black families and especially images of Black women today are not simply the result of media images and self-esteem within the community but rather a part of an interlocking system of race, gender, and class domination. By focusing blame on the Black community, we continue to ignore the structural, economic, political, and social conditions that have led to the disintegration of the Black family.
CNN article, Black First Family