Black history month talk to focus on the modern black woman

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie
Angeletta KM Gourdine, PhD

     In a talk to be presented at the Donaldsonville Library, Angeletta KM Gourdine, PhD – an associate professor of English and African Diaspora studies at LSU – said she intends to provide a different perspective for understanding First Lady Michelle Obama’s role and historical impact.

     “The historical election of Barack Obama as the first African American U.S. President has been discussed widely in terms of historical significance, but the impact of the first African American first lady is less engaged beyond her fashion sense and her role as partner/companion to the president, and her initiatives around children and families,” Gourdine said. “I think that like President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama’s time in the White House has broad historical significance in terms of the ways in which African American women are represented in media, particularly in terms of their roles as intimate partners, mothers and working women.”

     While the talk’s summary suggests that Gourdine will share an in-depth look at modern black women through the cultural impact of Michelle Obama, Gourdine said the concept wreaks of media propaganda.

     “I am not sure I can define the ‘modern’ black woman,” she said. “The tendency in American print culture to present one and two dimensional black women has been challenged and upended. What the First Lady demonstrates is that black women are diverse in their paths and options.

     The First couple, mainly through First Lady Obama’s presence, political choices, and strategic alliances, began a shift in black women’s perspectives on relationships and challenged contemporary TV and film representations of African American love.” 

     In her presentation, Gourdine said that she will highlight Michelle Obama’s style and fashion choices as evidence of a strategic attention to representation and rewriting narratives for black women’s empowerment and choices.

     The talk is geared toward a general audience interested in the historical significance of the Obamas, and locating them, the First Lady in particular, along a historical trajectory of influential black political women.

     “Her role as First Lady confirms the work of women a century before,” Gourdine said.