You may have heard the news that David J. Garrow is writing a biography about President Barack Obama called Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. The work by Pulitzer Prize winner David J. Garrow attempts to dissect where Obama came from and how he became the president he was.
Rising Star, paints him as a calculating individual who made himself into the man he needed to be in order to achieve the goal of being the first Black President of the United States of America. In the work Garrow alleges that young Barack was a fiction writer, identified as multicultural and lived with a woman of Japanese-Dutch ancestry named Shelia Miyoshi Jager. The young couple was in love and everything was great between the two of them. Barack asked her to marry him not once, but twice and though she wanted to her parents insisted that she wait until she was older.
As we all know Obama attends Harvard, meets Michelle Robinson at the firm at which he was an intern, and the rest as we know has been historic #blacklove relationship goals.
Honestly, when I first heard what was being reported it really disgusted me. No, it wasn’t because the woman wasn’t Black. It was because of the way the media diminished his relationship with Michelle.
Many media outlets painted an image of Obama where he was torn between his gleaming political ambition and matters of the heart, with him being torn in the middle. Even if that is so, Sheila was almost The First Lady of the United States of America – except we know almost doesn’t matter in the end.
The framing of this story is what bothered me and many others more than anything. The societal implications of relationships and race were very apparent. Black women are told in so many ways that we aren’t desirable. We are always portrayed as the least suitable partner for anyone. We’re told that no matter how intelligent, beautiful , pleasant or phenomenal we are, we are rarely a man’s first choice.
Many outlets that reported on the story kept implying Michelle may have been the first and only Black woman Barack dated. This suggests he preferred non-Black women. Implications such as these only add fuel to the notion that Black women can’t be anyone’s first choice.
The main implication was that Barack primarily decided to date a Black woman because of the gain it would bring to his political career. It was alleged in the book that Barack felt he had to date a Black woman to achieve his end goal of being president of the United States. The underlying implication is that Michelle wasn’t good enough on her own to be The First Lady (even though we know she was). It implies that because she is a Black woman, she had to have added value other than who she was as a person to be worthy of Barack’s affection. These notions imply that women of other races merely have to exist without any accolades to be sought-after.
Rising Star and the subsequent media critique questions the authenticity of Barack and Michelle Obama’s relationship and it’s really disgusting. It’s as if people were fishing for an underlying reason why Barack, a Black man destined for greatness would pursue and marry a Black woman that he was attracted to. There just had to be some fringe benefits from him to even think about dating a Black woman – benefits which resulted in his dream of being President of the United States of America coming true.
When you think about the totality of these findings, it really doesn’t matter. Yes, we figured Barack dated women before he married Michelle, but it doesn’t matter what ethnicity they were.
Reflecting on Barack’s family and home life, it’s really not shocking that he dated women of other ethnicities. As a biracial man who grew up in predominantly Asian or White areas there may not have been many Black women to choose from when he started dating. Barack’s dating history could possibly be linked to his location. We don’t know how many Black women Barack dated before Michelle, but we do know that he chose to get serious with Michelle, a Black woman. We also know that Barack was relentless in getting Michelle to give him a chance.
Rising Star makes it seem as if it is odd to be in love with someone else before you settle down. This is not uncommon. Everyone has a past, everyone has someone they thought was going to be the one before they met the real one. Barack, just like everyone else had serious relationships before he met Michelle but, his past relationships are a non-factor in his present.
Barack, like everyone else is allowed to grow and change from the person they were yesteryear. It just so happens for him, he was the first Black President of the United States, and everyone has a public opinion on his private past.
Shelia may have been one of Barack’s loves, but she wasn’t his greatest love. That title belongs to Michelle, the girl from the south side, Robinson.
Though he may have had something with Sheila, he still married Michelle. She was it for him. Michelle was the one, not the prototype. The relationship that Barack and Michelle have deserves to be respected and not diminished. With this in mind, there isn’t a reason to bring up old baes, that have long since been dropped.
Next time Barack’s exes are brought up lets keep it moving to the next topic of discussion because it’s really a mute point. In reference to Sheila, I would hate for the whole world to know that I curved Barack twice.
What really matters is that Barack and Michelle Obama are #goals personified. I would rather just stan for them and their love than focus on their exes.
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