5 min read
by Emma Glassman-Hughes | 08/11/2016
While it’s awfully sweet of the haters to be so concerned with Malia Obama’s health to the point that they’re judging her for her chosen forms of exercise (twerking, apparently) and recreation (saying she’s disrespectful and ‘wild’ for smoking marijuana at a music festival), I’m gonna suggest that the haters take those several seats that everyone has been offering them for a while. Not only is it just annoying to read criticism of this brilliant young woman (on her way to Harvard soon, just sayin') for relaxing with her friends, but--Debbie Downer moment--the criticism of a black woman smoking weed in particular is emblematic of racist tropes.
When people criticize a young black woman for partaking in a little smokage (smokage that is partooken upon by *many* of her contemporaries, people), claiming that it’s disrespectful or shameful, they are burdening black womanhood with what feels like a call for extra moral purity; a level of purity that they don't necessarily expect from white teens. White teens get away with smoking weed and “misbehaving” all the time--literally, in that they go to jail far less often than their black peers.
It’s also important to recognize that the people criticizing Malia Obama are the same people splaying #AllLivesMatter, #MakeAmericaGreatAgain (non-ironically), and #ImpeachObama all over your newsfeeds. The people who are upset over Malia’s normal teenage behaviors are perpetuators of racist rhetoric--often without knowing it--and probably don’t recognize how their actions contribute to the already deeply entrenched racism that Malia’s family is constantly subjected to.
So haters, if you really care about the wellbeing of the ~youths~ (particularly those who aren’t white as lilies), I suggest you direct your attention to more pressing issues like the disappearance of 14 young women of color in the New York City neighborhoods of Harlem and the Bronx over the past few months, or the alarming rates of incarceration for young black kids, or the continual murders of black trans girls and women, or the persistence of police violence aimed at black youth, or fill in the blank. Considering the pressure amounted on young people of color in this country, and the escalating persistence of mental health issues that shadow them, it seems perfectly healthy to me that Malia Obama would let off some steam with her rich and cool friends.
To the non-haters who need a little help coping with all this nonsense, here are all the important Twitter reactions to the Malia-shaming that will make you LOL. Hopefully.
P.S., Malia @ the haters: SIDE. EYE.
by Emma Glassman-Hughes