Since January 20th, 2009, the entire nation and the world at large witnessed something that many of us have never seen before in our lifetimes: a president and first lady willfully engulfed in a passion for one another.
Michelle and Barack Obama weren’t just cordial or amicable, they were deeply in love from the moment many of us met them on the democratic primary campaign trail, which continued all the way to their dance at the Inaugural ball while Beyoncé serenaded them with Etta James’ classic tune “At Last.” Immediately we collectively recognized that we weren’t looking at another first couple who enjoyed each other’s company; we were observing an authentically palpable love—Black love at that.
For the next eight years, that love only increased. It sometimes felt like their escape from the disgusting commentary and actions of the world around them was found by retreating into each other, which only made them closer.
Unlike a lot of past first couples, this was not just a platonic partnership or an arrangement of political necessity; this was true love in all of its grand majesty and innocuous intricacies. As we’ve become accustomed to beholding that love, on Friday we literally saw what that love looks like contrasted side-by-side against the formal dispassionate presidential relationships of past.
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 21, 2017
While for many it was a hilarious case study in the difference between having a life partner and a trophy wife, this consistent dissimilitude between how President Obama treated Michelle throughout the day and how Donald treated Melania, sparked a very weird reaction among many people of color and political denominations: pity—for Melania.
this makes me really sad, i genuinely feel bad for her. he doesn’t appreciate her and she doesn’t seem happy at all pic.twitter.com/PPpxHMFUXR
— sensitive snowflake (@hydroponicjuan) January 22, 2017
— david andrew sitek (@DaveSitek) January 22, 2017
As someone who writes frequently about relationships, it’s not a completely crazy assertion to view these pictures as symbolic of an unhealthy marriage. But what’s truly problematic about the entire narrative is that it’s predicated on the idea that her unhappiness isn’t just tied to one day of mistreatment, or a relationship rooted in her under-appreciation, but rather the idea that she is “too good” for him because his disgusting, racist, sexist, vile underpinnings are contrary to her nature.
— Guy Duncan (@gdaduncan) January 21, 2017
Melania Trump is not a victim, she’s a volunteer. But in our society, where White womanhood is immediately attached to virtuosity, she gets the benefit of the doubt, although it’s thoroughly unearned. But just as social media users united to view Melania through a victimized lens, an old interview with Joy Behar surfaced, showing her true colors.
— Jack Runyan (@JackDRunyan) January 23, 2017
This is Melania Trump pushing the racist narrative that Barack Obama was an illegitimate president. This is her directly questioning the authenticity of a sitting president predicated on a wholly bigoted argument. These are not the words of a victim; they are the actions of a vulture. One who is invested in taking a sledgehammer to the legacy and legitimacy of America’s first Black president in the interests of her own gain.
Yet, there are still some who aim to present her as little more than a poor casualty of an unfortunate political situation, just as they do with the rest of the women in Trump’s life. We’ve been told that Trump’s daughters are victims of his hate speech and despite her leading Trump’s bigoted and xenophobic campaign, Saturday Night Live even constantly presents Kellyanne Conway as a remorseful victim who had no idea what she was truly doing.
I disagree w/SNL making Kellyanne Conway into some sympathetic character. She’s not. She knew and knows what she’s doing.
— Lawrence Ross (@alpha1906) December 23, 2016
— widow (@ArmeniQueen) January 11, 2017
The problem here is how society chooses to collectively view White femininity. They are very rarely presented as the authors of racism and bigotry, but as the weak feeble recipients of a racialized privilege they had no hand in creating, or desire in reaping. That is completely inaccurate. Like we heard from many different activists of color who showed up at different women’s marches on Saturday, White women have just as much ability and responsibility for their bigotry as White men, and the idea that they are pawns in the act of White supremacy is disingenuous.
Alright. Here is one indigenous woman’s take on the #WomensMarch on Washington, in a sea full of white women (WW). This will be a thread.
— hokte (@sydnerain) January 23, 2017
Angela Davis was speaking and these white women were screaming “LETS GO” because they didn’t know who she was. I was ready to throw hands
— syena (@jesuspinkman) January 22, 2017
Melania Trump is no victim. She is a capitalist who is reaping the rewards of her behavior. She knew what she was doing the first day she agreed to date Donald Trump, and becoming America’s FLOTUS is not—in any way—some form of sympathy-inducing punishment. If society is truly looking for sympathetic women to feel sorry for, maybe we should stop looking at the woman who sleeps beside America’s Bigot-in-Chief, and maybe start looking at the multitudes of women whose lives will be irreparably ravaged by his policies.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.