Posts tagged ‘Michelle Obama’

Did Desiree Rogers have a Personal Branding Problem?

I’m sure some of you saw my short vlog bidding Desire a farewell. While I still think DC will be a little less fabulous, a recent NY Times article made me re-think my position when it comes to the reasons for Desiree Rogers’ departure.

First, there was this opening paragraph:

Ms. Rogers had appeared in another glossy magazine, posing in a White House garden in a borrowed $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings. But if the image was jarring in a time of recession, Mr. Axelrod was as bothered by the words and her discussion of “the Obama brand” and her role in promoting it, according to people informed about the conversation.

“The president is a person, not a product,” he was said to tell her. “We shouldn’t be referring to him as a brand.”

…But that’s the thing. The Obamas are a brand. While they may not be a product, there is a level of personal branding that was a part of both President Obama’s election campaign and now his presidency. And I realize that some people hate the idea of personal branding and that it’s taking away from the fact that we’re dealing with people and not products. But in my mind, the thing that makes personal branding so key is that it is about who you are as a person and the aspects about yourself that you want reflected in the public eye. I really believe that if Desiree Rogers wasn’t creating events that were reflecting the “Obama Brand”, they wouldn’t have happened.

Then the Salahis happened.

While I do believe that there’s a little bit of falling on the sword going on with Desiree’s departure, I think there was also the issue of balancing building her own personal brand and also still promoting the Obama brand and making that her top priority.

Here’s what I mean by that:

Ms. Rogers’s hip style, expensive clothing and presence at fashion shows at first were seen as symbolizing a new Camelot but ultimately struck many as tone deaf in a time of economic hardship and 10 percent unemployment.

The White House eventually clamped down on her public profile. She was ordered to stop attending splashy events and showing up in fancy clothes on magazine covers. When Michelle Obama learned one day that Ms. Rogers was on a train heading to New York to attend an MTV dinner, the first lady told her longtime friend to cancel, associates said.

When I read this, the first thing I thought was: Wait a minute. She was going to go to this MTV dinner without the White House’s permission and, moreover to a dinner that Michelle Obama wasn’t invited to? #iCant.

I realize that perhaps Desiree was trying to build relationships but the way to do that when you’re the White House Social Secretary is a.-to not be in a hurry to be in the limelight and b.-build relationships within DC. To my understanding, it seems as though the White House Social Secretary must have a knowledge of the way Washington works and it’s possible Desiree didn’t grasp hold of that knowledge. But more important, she may have been doing the #2 item on this list of how to get fired for building your personal brand: putting her own brand over the White House brand when it came to her own priorities.

Seems like a classic case of not balancing your brand with the company’s brand. And in that case, it easy to understand how Desiree could have gotten in trouble with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad to see Dez go but I’m starting to understand how the idea of personal branding could have played a role in why she left.

Looking for the Next Barack? Yeah, right.

Some of you may have seen Jenee Desmond Harris’ piece in the Root last week. In it, she says that perhaps Black women can learn from Michelle Obama by letting go of our shallow “requirements”: a college degree (or two), a house, a “good” job (think Capitol Hill or a Consulting firm), and yes, “swagger.”

But now there’s a follow up from a male perspective. This week, David Swerdlick’s piece entitled “What Women Can’t Learn from Michelle” really sparked my attention:

You can’t argue with Jenée’s thesis: her coterie of pedigreed, upwardly mobile black women have to dig deeper for unseen potential if they’re looking for “Mr. Right.”

But if Barack Obama Part Deux is what it’s going to take to satisfy them, then her advice is going to leave a lot of women single as hell.

Personally, I blame Dwayne Wayne. Those endless reruns of your favorite episodes of A Different World get y’all completely twisted when it comes to evaluating a potential mate. But that’s beside the point. Here are a few tips to straighten things out:

Stop comparing regular guys to Barack Obama.

I can only speak for myself—I’m biracial, went to some pretty decent schools and spent most of my 20s in a cramped bachelor pad—but that’s where the comparisons to Barack Obama end. There’s nothing cool or Kravitz-esque to see here—I’m the other kind of mixed guy, in need of a tan and a fade. Picture Benjamin Jealous after six weeks on Survivor.

He had me at hello.

So many women–especially in DC–are on a mission for their Barack Obama. Now I know this goes against my past views about this topic, and I have to say that after much thought, I think that perhaps the “find your next Barack Obama” meme is over the top and, in a word, a little silly. There is only one woman for Barack Obama, and that’s Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

But beyond that, I think what what Swerdlick is getting at is that many women look at the wrong things: we are looking for some inkling of Presidential Swagger that may not be there because, well, the guy you’re peeping at the happy hour is not the President at all. And he may never be President. Sad, but true.

Stop looking at his checkbook and start updating your playbook.

Just because a man can “afford” to pay for $15 apple martinis doesn’t mean he wants to. Sometimes the guy buying rounds of shots is on his third bankruptcy, and the guy drinking $2 Miller Lights owns three rental properties.

We’ll do what we have to do to get your phone number, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a recession going on. If you start sizing up a man for all he’s worth right now, you’re letting him know up front that if things get too far, he’s on the hook for a three-karat rock and a mortgage on a beach house in Oak Bluffs. And if he knows that already, he might flee.

….and this isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate a man paying when we go out, but I’ll take a taco dinner at Taqueria D.F. just as happily as I would a gourmet affair at 1789. Maybe it’s the California girl in me.  It’s not the price of the time you spent. It’s about the person and how happy you are with him or her.

But I wanna know who these women keeping score based on a man’s salary are…do I know them? Are we friends? …but I digress.

And then, Swerdlick gives us one last word of advice:

Start dating white, Asian and Latino men.

And while we’re on the subject, how about trying Something New?

Not into white guys? That’s too bad because I’d be willing to bet that Bill Clinton has dated more black women than Barack Obama.

Black women hoping for a monopoly on black men have to realize that they’re like General Motors in a Toyota world—either develop your own hybrid technology or prepare to go out of business.

The bottom line: Single women should avoid using Barack Obama’s résumé as a job description for a position they’re trying to fill or treating their next boyfriend like a prospective applicant.

I’ve never been a woman who claimed to only date one race or another.  It would make sense to me, especially in 2009, that it’s okay to date outside of your race. So go ahead–holler at the token White guy (or girl) at The Park next Thursday 🙂

At this point in my life, I’ve dated lots of different guys–plenty of guys with good jobs and degrees from the “right schools”, plenty of boyfriends with “swagga”–and none of it really matters. What matters is that a man treats me with respect and love–and yeah, that he makes me laugh–among other thngs.

The rest is just plastic. It’s not about being in a power couple. It’s about being with someone who loves you for you. And well, shouldn’t we do the same for our mate?

Behold, a Lady | Open Thread

 

 

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I have no other comments except for this song right here.

What a lovely expression of Black womanhood.

Consider this an open thread….please feel free to drop links, music, blogs, news, questions, comments, and general queries 🙂

The American Dream

inauguration_headline

On this past Tuesday, I was able to witness the swearing in of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. It was awe-inspiring, it was emotional, and it was a blessing to be a part of history.

I don’t know what more I can say that hasn’t already been said. When I saw Michelle Obama walk through those doors in that beautiful gold suit, that’s when the tears started to fall. We have a Black First Lady. It had finally really sunk in.

Hearing the crowd shout Obama’s name made me realize that for the first time, I was actually seeing a group this large united for one purpose–to witness the swearing in of the first Black President.

Was it cold? YES. Was it crowded? Hell yes.

But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Not one bit.

In the days before the inauguration, I got an email from my mother, who was raised in DC and witnessed the 1968 riots as a child. “I am so proud and happy that you are  in DC at this moment that I could just cry,” she said.

It means so much to me to hear the older genderations so filled with hope and with the excitement of change. They are living to see a dream fulfilled. I think back to my Election Night experience, and talking to my Nana while she told me through her tears that she now could tell her grandchildren that they could be whoever they want to be.

Finally, I leave you with some words from Rosetta Thurman’s recent Inauguration post:

Deep inside of each of us, there is a glimmer of wanting light that wants to do something real and true. On a clear day like yesterday at the Capitol, you could see it on the faces of a million people shivering in the winter air, wearing nothing but hope on their faces.

We have been forgiven for so many years of waiting until we get our ducks in a row before we do what we want to do in our lives. We have been given permission to fly as far as we want to go. We have all been inspired to turn back the dial and become better Americans in the process.

Listen for what it is that you are called to do. And when you hear it, don’t wait. Do it now.

If I didn’t feel that way before, I certainly feel that way now. There are so many things that I’ve been wanting to do, and now more than ever I feel the strength and the passion to pursue my dreams like never before. And only time will tell, but perhaps President Obama will usher in an era of philanthropy, of kindness, of collaboration, and–yes–of love.

Fab Coat Alert!

i have no other comments except that the coat–and the boots–are BAD (meaning good).  thanks to my buddy mike for passing this along via gtalk.

Remember, Remember the Fourth of November: Black Blogger Roundup

Two days ago, we elected our first Black President. Here is a roundup of what Black folks are saying around the Blogosphere:

  • Average Bro gives some random thoughts the day after the election, including why all Barack would have to do is do a good job and it would be better for Black people.
  • Stereohyped says what I’ve been thinking: Barack for President is cool AND I’m happy about Michelle as First Lady. They have a side by side comparison to recent first ladies.
  • At The Root, Henry Louis Gates gives his sage wisdom about Barack Obama and what his presidency means in this post-civil rights Black America.
  • As a shameless plug, I wrote a post over at Pushback about Bill Bennett claiming that whites no longer have to listen to “excuses” from minorities….Bill Bennett, please stop talking.
  • Black Snob gives us the scoop on Michelle’s dress among other things…I like the dress better now than I did at first, but I still didn’t like it as much as her DNC dress.
  • Jack and Jill Politics has a lot of great stuff, including this cartoon.
  • And finally, Culture Kitchen has the full text of Obama’s acceptance speech and the Youtube as well.

President Obama.

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I’m not even sure where to begin or even if I should be writing.

I’m still at a lost for words. I held it in all day. Unlike some people, like Rosetta had mentioned, were crying at the polls, I didn’t feel that way at all. Yes, it surreal. Yes, I felt proud. But I went all day without really crying.

Then, when CNN called the election in favor of Obama, and the words “Barack Obama elected President” flashed on the screen, tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t contain myself. As I sat in my friend’s bar on 9th and U, I was overtaken with emotion. As I began sobbing, my boyfriend held onto me. I looked over at the other end of the bar, and saw other people crying as well.

As soon as the cellphone traffic died down, I called my family. The phone call I won’t forget is my Nana, who lived through the Civil Rights Movement. Her voice was cracking as she spoke. “I never thought I’d live to see this day,” Nana said. “Now, I will live to tell my grandchildren and my great grandchildren that they, too, can be president. That they can be…whoever they want to be.

I lost it. As I looked out to 9th and U Street, NW, and saw the horns honking and black people dancing in the streets, more tears ran down my face.

My mother was away on business in Memphis, Tennessee. At the beginning of the night I received a text message from her that said the following:

PLEASE keep me posted. I am going to a church service and I need to know the news. Keep texting. Love, Mom.

So every time Obama won a state, I would text her to let her know. But when Obama was elected, I said “Mommy, Obama is our President!” She was stunned. All she could say was, “Oh my God.”

This is an incredible feeling. A Black President with a Black family. When I saw this picture:

It hit me that a woman who looks like me, a brown skinned woman, would be our first lady. From Jack and Jill Politics via SkepticalBrotha:

Is America ready for a First Lady who looks like her? A regular black woman? Not a passable biracial curly girl that they call black, but a regular black woman from the south side of Chicago? With dark skin?

Is she going to be the face of The Woman on the largest pedestal in the country? A self-confessed “loud-mouth” black woman?

If they succeed, it turns white supremacy upside down. And not, in my opinion, because a black man is in the White House, it’s because a black woman is in there. And she didn’t have to come in the back door to lie in bed with the president.

Imagine what this will do for black girls everywhere, to know that Black beauty is expressed in our White House.

I will have more to say and a Black blogger round up later on today. Until then let’s all listen to James Brown:

One more thing: how surreal is it to see this list of presidents on Wikipedia? Scroll down to the bottom to see what I’m talking about.