The Obamas are the talk of the town, and they certainly should be. As the new President, the new First Lady, the new first family gets settled in, there is a lot of curiosity and excitement. And for all the reasons that their move to the White House is historic, people will be talking for a long time.
But there is something disturbing in the conversation. On The View Wednesday, Barbara Walters and Joy Behar compared the First family to the Huxtables. Sherri Shepherd, in just about the onlly intelligent thing she’s ever said, reminded everyone that The Huxtables were a fictional family. She seemed upset to think that some on her panel hadn’t seen a stable black family since The Cosby Show.
Wednesday’s CNN article “Black first family ‘changes everything'” interviewed other African-Americans to get their take on how this family will change perceptions of African-American families in general. They also referenced the Huxtables and said that many television programs focused on either the pathology of unwed parents and absentee fathers or on comedy.
But as Shepherd said, and at least one other person in the CNN article, a family like the Obamas who stays together, has careers, well-educated children and exude class, may not be the norm on television, but they are everywhere. I know. I happen to be in one of them. And every morning when I drop my children off at school, I see others just like us.
Perhaps people need to pick up their heads and look around instead of just watching t.v. Maybe in some twisted way, the image of the black family as inherently broken is entertaining to some. Maybe it’s even a means of repression. Reprising a negative image over time can have negative effects. So was it sabotage, mis-information, or just plain unwillingness to believe that well-educated, career-oriented, dedicated parents could be black people?
I’m choosing to believe that people are just too busy with their own lives to be bothered with anyone else’s. So the advent of this family making history, made people look up suddenly and what they see only seems new because they haven’t been looking around. And if the novelty wears off and everyone goes back to the images they see on television, that will be OK too, because the Obamas will be there; no opening credits, no song and dance number, no made-for-tv drama; just a family with successful parents who love and respect each other, and well-adjusted school-aged children.