The BLACK paPR Report


PR from an African American Perspective

A New Image

It’s been almost ten years since I stood in a college classroom to teach mass-mediated images of African Americans. The subject is one I love but have few instances where I can discuss my knowledge of black images. That is until Michelle and Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, June 3, the world was a witness to Barack Obama taking center stage at a rally in Minnesota with Michelle by his side. She looked elegant, strong and extremely supportive. He looked confident, secure and if I can share my bias, he looked quite presidential. In my mind, the world caught a gander of our nation’s next president and first lady. 

The thing that struck me as more beautiful than their appearance, in and of itself, was the sight of Michelle and Barack giving one another dap, pounding their fists together in a symbol of unity. And as she walked away, he came centimeters close to patting her on the behind, another symbol — a symbol of love and affection.

Some of the scholarship I’ve read posited that the image of a healthy black love relationship was missing in our movies, television programs and in our literature. My students — black, white, Asian and Hispanic — always dismissed that fact until they were given the task of disproving it. The only example most could find were Claire and Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show. That was it in a nutshell.

Fast forward, ten years later, the story remains the same with a few more examples. The most recent example would be Barack and Michelle.

They don’t want their relationship on a pedestal, which is wise. Anyone free to hold up the pedestal is also free to kick it from underneath them. Still, they, albeit inadvertently, represent an image — a model — of love in any color that is healthy and long overdue for most black people.

Pounding fists didn’t occur between two lawyers but rather between two people who obviously like one another. Two people who share a history and perhaps, a secret or two. The fists colliding represented the words we’ll never hear. 

“I’ve got your back.”

“We did it!”

“Let’s do this…”

My hope is that art begins to imitate life and we begin to embrace the stories of a real black love (and like) between a man and a woman. No more TV shows with widower black men raising kids on their own, or men whose wives are on crack, or sisters who have baby daddies and no husband, or bitter single black women who refuse to support a black man. 

It’s time for a change in images we can believe in, too. 

As a PR professional, how will you commit to making those images happen?

Best, Robin

Filed under: African Americans, Mass-Mediated Images, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by nhoizey on 2008-10-12 A New Image – bookmarked by 1 members originally […]

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