Don’t Come For the First Lady While She Is Speaking, Or She May Come Back at You with a Vengeance (w/Update)
UPDATE (06/06/13, 12:05 p.m.) A rather lopsided video of the incident surfaced on CNN yesterday evening. Check it out:
As if to confirm what I said below about passive aggressive behavior evinced by Ellen Sturtz, GetEqual, her organization, began making noises about how terrible the First Lady was to the interloper as News One related:
Sturtz is reportedly on Twitter (@eos16), but with the First Lady’s supporters on a rampage, she’s understandably keeping a low social media profile.
I should say so. More from black blogger Ankhesen Mié from Texas commenting at At The Bar about Ellen Sturtz and GetEqual’s presumptions and racism:
I’ve noticed that everyone writing about this is bringing up the fact that Ellen Sturtz is gay and are unsuccessfully using it as a shield. Sturtz’s behavior was wrong, and her sexual orientation does not magically absolve her of that. Her being gay doesn’t make it okay for her tell the First Lady to tell her husband what she, Sturtz, wants them to do…as though they were a couple of old house slaves.
This is a weak attempt to make Sturtz look innocent and helpless (you know…like a white damsel in distress?). Let’s be logical about this: you heckled a guest speaker. Contrary to how you’re trying to portray yourself, you interrupted her multiple times (big surprise). You expected her to, what…like it? Enjoy it? Get on her knees and beg for more?
I’m glad Michelle basically told Sturtz to go fuck herself because this had me flashing back to every white girl who ever got up in my face, issuing orders, rolling her eyes, throwing tantrums, and demanding to be catered to…just ’cause. That is a very real, very constant part of POC life in America. You can be the First Lady of the United States of America, and it obviously won’t change a damn thing.
So don’t mess with the Queen, or she will take your head off so nicely you won’t even know what happened.
For Harriet, a website for black women, has just released an audio of what occurred last night at that private DNC fundraiser First Lady Michelle Obama headlined in which she confronted a gay rights activist who interrupted her, and I felt that it was high time to talk about this incident. I couldn’t embed the audio from For Harriet, but I found another source that had the audio on You Tube. You may have to rewind and play it back to get the gist of what was being said, because Michelle is unmiked, people around her were talking, and because the recording unit was probably several paces back. Apparently, there had been an earlier interruption of another speaker, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, before Michelle spoke, so the First Lady may have been forearmed.
About 12 minutes into Obama’s 20-minute speech, a woman standing at the front of the crowd began yelling for an executive order on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
“One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” replied Obama to loud applause. She left the lectern and approached the protester, inviting the woman to “listen to me, or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
The crowd shouted that they wanted Obama to stay, and one woman near the protester said, “You need to go!”
The protester was then escorted out, saying she wanted “federal equality before I die.”
Sister, I agree, but this ain’t the way. And not because I believe that Barack and Michelle are untouchable. Interrupting President Obama and First Lady Michelle has become a sore point among African Americans, because No. 1, it shows a withering disrespect for who they are and what they do for the country, whether one likes it or not. They have a right to be heard because they are the leaders of the country. To disrespect them is also disrespect for the American presidency, and by extension, African Americans. The deep dig at blacks has been well-noted.
And the Obamas are getting it from all sides, from right-wing hecklers who don’t believe that Barack Obama should be president despite the will of the people, to Medea Benjamin recently at a White House press conference, who felt that we had to pull out from Iraq now (and I agree with this myself) and now this. That the hecklers have been mostly white is particularly galling. It’s racism from the left as well as the right. Have you ever heard of a person of color interrupting the President or his wife? If any black person did something like this in public, it would be the equivalent of someone forgetting their home training. The entire neighborhood would waiting on the culprit when s/he returned home.
While President Obama may be patient with hecklers in public in keeping with the gravity of his office, I’m sure that Michelle has been less forgiving of these people in private, be they right- or left-wing, who dog her or who dog her man. Remember the world-class side-eye Michelle gave Speaker Boehner after the second Inaugural? The girl is not having it any longer. It’s personal for her when it is political for some others.
Sturtz was calling for an executive order to bar discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT groups have been disappointed that President Barack Obama has refused to issue such an order, while the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which would prohibit such discrimination in hiring more broadly — remains stuck in Congress.
In an interview later with The Huffington Post, Sturtz, a divorced lesbian, said she didn’t go to the event intending to interrupt Obama. She said she instead planned to reach out to someone from the DNC about her concerns. But as the first lady urged the audience to make the country a better place for the next generation, Sturtz said she decided to speak up.
“I want to talk about the children,” she said. “I want to talk about the LGBT young people who are … being told, directly and indirectly, that they’re second-class citizens. I’m tired of it. They’re suffering. … We’ve been asking president to sign that ENDA executive order for five years. How much longer do we need to wait?”
Like I said, while I support this order/bill, I don’t support the means by which this LGBT activist is agitating for change. And what is interesting to me is that at first, Sturtz was intimidated by the First Lady:
In an interview, Sturtz told the Washington Post, that she was stunned by the first lady’s response to her heckling.
“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz told the Post. “I was taken aback.”
WTF What the hell did you expect? The nerve, the sheer effrontery, and the lack of respect evinced by Sturtz trying to hijack the event. Couldn’t she have lobbied for a private meeting with the First Lady to talk about her concerns? And let me tell readers something else. Michelle was not “in her face.” She made eye contact. She looked directly at Sturtz. Speaking directly and firmly as Michelle did was not a verbal attack. It was a request for respect. Black women/people get this all the time from whites who speak disrespectfully towards them, as if blacks cannot understand plain English. Then, when they are confronted on what they are saying, especially when unaccompanied by swear words, and in the words of someone black who has an intellect, whites suddenly feel that the big bad black person is trying to maim or kill them, and yell for help in order to subdue them and to get what they want. Classic blame-the-victim, passive-aggressive behavior. You don’t say or do such things with impunity. There is a price for such behavior.
“Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, and I can’t be quiet any longer. … I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing,” said Sturtz.
“She obviously thought she was going to make an example of me or something. I wasn’t scared at all,” she added.
Yeah, I’ll bet you weren’t. And I am sure that what you did has become an example of what not to do in Michelle Obama’s presence, because you opened your mouth. The crowd did not spend X number of dollars ($100-10,000 at one report) to see you act out, Ellen Sturtz. For $500, it was said, you could have had 2 minutes to talk to Mrs. Obama. There were a number of African Americans who were also present, who immediately understood what was happening, and they were not taking it either. And that is one reason why you were escorted out the door. So you’re surprised that you got little respect or support for what you were doing?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not pleased about things that the president has done and not done. I cannot stand Eric Holder. The president’s still dealing with world-class obstructionism from that Congress. He’s wavering on Keystone. Blacks still wonder whether anything substantive will be done addressing their concerns, chiefly jobs and housing. He seems to have reverted to pre-election behavior. Marriage equality is still a good thing, but people are getting fired or harassed for marrying their same-sex partner. Faith has got to move mountains, not just Barack Obama, and for the long haul. He’s not a superhero.
But this is not the way, people. This is not the way. Because we’ve got your number on this one.
- First Lady Michelle Obama Confronts Heckler at Private DC Fundraiser (atlantablackstar.com)
- Michelle Obama tells gay rights heckler: ‘You can take the mic but I’m leaving’ (independent.co.uk)
- Why Heckling Michelle Obama Doesn’t Pay (theroot.com)
- Heckler: Michelle Obama Was in My Face – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)