From Mammy to Mommy: Michelle Obama and the Reclamation of Black Motherhood

  • David Querusio
Keywords: Michelle Obama, social science, Spring 2015, MSNBC, sociology, women's studies


On November 21st, 2013, Politico Magazine published Michelle Cottle’s piece titled “Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare.” Cottle pinpoints several explanations for Obama’s degeneration into such a “nightmare,” including the First Lady proclaiming to be a “mom-in-chief” and focusing on healthy eating. Melissa Harris-Perry, correspondent for MSNBC, retaliated quickly and criticized Cottle for her remarks, insisting that she should better study her black feminist history. This article argues that Cottle is oblivious to Obama’s standpoint as a black woman, and that by embracing motherhood, Obama is doing what many black women have been prevented from doing throughout history. This article draws from both historical accounts of black women during slavery and modern constructions of black femininity to address Cottle’s claims.

Author Biography

David Querusio
David Querusio is from Millis, MA, and came to Boston College in 2012 as an English major, but quickly added a minor in Sociology. He enjoys all kinds of literature, especially contemporary works. He is interested in how literature intersects and interacts with social theories such as feminism, postcolonialism, queer theory, and Marxism. Possible future plans include graduate school.
How to Cite
Querusio, D. (2015). From Mammy to Mommy: Michelle Obama and the Reclamation of Black Motherhood. Elements, 11(1).