Barack, Michelle, and the Complexities of a Black “Love Supreme”1
There is no issue in the black community that is more contentious than that of the romantic relationships between black men and black women. Black male-female relationships are fraught with challenges—e.g., low marriage rates, high divorce rates, absent fathers, educational and income gaps between men and women, and the down-low phenomenon. These issues, and others, have spawned countless movies, books, articles, and town halls on the state of black male-female relationships. What is auspicious about the Barack and Michelle’s relationship is that it provides a healthy example of marriage, family life, and even more “black love.” The issue it raises, however, is that it may also establish—either implicitly or explicitly—essential elements of such love. In essence, black women may look to the Obama marriage and come to even more strongly believe than many already do that healthy relationships for blacks must be intra-racial, heterosexual, and defined by pairings of Christian and equally successful (educationally and economically) blacks. This idealization, without appropriate consideration of the actual challenges the Obamas faced as a couple and realities that militate against such essentialism, may leave many black women more frustrated with their mate options than they already are.
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