By now you’ve probably seen the image of Senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway with her feet all up on the couch in the Oval Office while a group of HBCU presidents crowd around the president. And while it’s not a matter of national concern, it is yet another example of PEAK White Privilege in action at the highest level.
For eight years everything about President Obama and his family was dissected and railed against by many on the Right. President Obama plays basketball? My god, he should act presidential, not shoot jump shots with the urban youth. When the Obamas hosted “An Evening of Poetry” during the president’s first term, Karl Rove slammed the Obama Administration for inviting Chicago emcee Common to the event, calling the rapper a “thug.” When former First Lady Michelle Obama dared to wear a sleeveless dress in her first official photo and again at her husband’s first address to Congress, she was derided for her “informal” attire.
And it didn’t stop there.
When Sasha and Malia Obama laughed at their dad’s corny jokes during the annual turkey pardoning while looking like–gasp–normal teens, they were accused of having “no class” by a senior Republican official. And of course, when an image of President Obama with his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office went viral–a move several presidents have also done in the past–heads on the Right very nearly exploded with outrage. One popular blog even wrote Americans “should inundate the White House with emails demanding he keep his feet off of our furniture,” because “this arrogant, immature & self-centered man has no sense of honor, or of simple decency. While this posture is disrespectful in any culture, it is absolutely never done in any executive setting.”
But, as you can image, all that built up faux-outrage over the Obamas is quite absent when it comes to Conway. Sure folks have called her stance out as uncouth and unacceptable–I mean, why are her shoes on the sofa? Still, I don’t hear folks claiming she “has no sense of honor” or is a “thug” because of her lack of basic home training. Nah, instead, we have the Washington Post brushing off her critics and folks on the Right calling the whole thing fake news.
In the grand scheme of things, Conway’s lack of tact isn’t life-altering or important (the meeting with HBCU presidents might be, though). But it is yet another example of the types of comfortableness many White folks exhibit anywhere that the rest of us never would–or could–get away with.