Obama’s Baby Mama Drama

June 12, 2008

On June 11th, Fox News Megyn Kelly ran a story about Michelle Obama and whether her comments about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. As Fox likes to say, “That’s fair.” At one point during the interview while showing clips of Mrs. Obama, one of the captions said “Outraged liberals: stop picking on Obama’s baby mama!” I first heard about this while driving home listening to Michael Baisden. For about 5 minutes, I was very angry with Fox News stooping to yet another low but the next 30 minutes of my gas-guzzling, rush-hour traffic drive became filled with more anger—towards Black people.

Michael Baisden was all fired up with his campaign to have his listeners call Fox and express their discontent about the use of such disrespectful terms. While I love Michael Baisden and the work he has done, he and many others are missing a key teachable moment—Black people are providing Fox and others the bullets they will to try to shoot us down. Unlike the word “nigga,” which had been passed on to us by Europeans and has had various nuanced incantations of its meaning from “brother” to “ignorant”, “baby mama” is a unique Black creation which came to popularity in the 90s with songs by Dave Hollister partnered with B Rock and the Bizz’s “My baby daddy”. Unlike words like “nigga” & “coon” which were around before my grandparents were born, these songs along with others helped usher in a new wave of derogatory references for Black people but these were all created for us, by us—or so we thought.

“Hood rat,” “chicken head,” “pigeon,” “hoochie mama,” “roller,” “stunt,” and “jump-off,” are all derogatory terms towards Black woman (read “urban” for those who want to say it’s about class, not race). While we were celebrating our ability to descend to lowest levels of public shame, we were providing the world with an entire new lexicon to describe us. Why should we then be surprised when those who do not have daily interaction with Black people turn to BET or MTV for the latest “hip” terms? Through our parodies we proudly provide pathetic pictures of a pilfered people.

What’s most disgraceful to me is the anger that has been directed towards Fox News. In this light, Baisden and others are being hypocritical. Baisden regularly uses the term “baby mama” as does Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, & Russ Parr. These and other Black celebrities who have our ears everyday should be condemning this terminology on a daily basis rather than trying to sound like they’re “keepin’ it real.” They don’t have to promote marriage to no end but at least don’t celebrate the opposite. You’ll never hear me arguing over White people and other groups using the term “nigga” and “baby mama” until we make it unacceptable for us to use. A little more disappointing is that Michele Obama actually referred to Obama as her “baby’s daddy” at the DNC convention in ’04 so expect that to be thrown right back at us!

Now over the next few days, many Black scholars and average folks on the street will weigh in and many will try to treat this like the word “nigga” and make it all nuanced like when folks say it’s a term of endearment or “I can use it but you can’t.” They’ll say, “Well, ‘baby mama’ is for more like hood girls” or “it’s only for women that aren’t married” etc., etc. Whatever. Fox News isn’t thinking that and neither is mainstream America. They and other ignorant broadcasters will simply say “That’s what they call each other” and they’ll be right. We can’t give them the language and then start making exceptions for extraordinary people like the Obamas. While many have placed Senator Obama in a messiah-like picture frame but his detractors see him as just another Black man (and you know what we normally say there). If we didn’t give it to them, this blog would be about their “terrorist fist-bump” stupidity.

I implore all of you reading this to not add fuel to Fox’s fire and look in the mirror. Think about what you do to degrade Black people publicly and check yourself. Let us stop taking the worse aspects of our culture and wearing them as badges of honor. Let’s not forget that many of our Black children see marriage as something for White people. With what we promote in our culture, why should they think otherwise? Why should anyone if we don’t? When will he have higher standards for ourselves?

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