So Tuesday night, Michelle Obama was giving a speech during a fundraiser and was interrupted by a heckler. The heckler was Ellen Sturtz. The issue Sturtz was concerned about was getting the President to sign an Executive Order on gay rights. Michelle Obama, responded by simply giving Sturtz an offer. She could keep talking and discussing gay rights and Executive Orders, and Michelle would not speak anymore; or Sturtz could be quiet, and The First Lady would finish what she was saying. She didn't curse Sturtz out. Mrs. Obama did not call her names, she simply gave her a choice, as even she says, she wasn't good at that kind of thing.
Now I'm pro gay rights. I'm very pro freedom of speech and I defend and I applaud Ms. Sturtz for her stance and choice to protest. However, I am a bit disturbed by Ms. Sturtz response to Ms. Obama's reaction to her protest:
"She came right down in my face," Sturtz told the Washington Post. "I was taken aback."
Ms. Sturtz seems to be surprised the FLOTUS responded to her. Wasn't that the intent of heckling? She approached you, and explained how she felt about the situation, and that is "getting in your face" and you were the one "taken aback", and not the FLOTUS as she was giving a speech on children while you interrupted her to discuss another issue all together?
I'm "taken aback" in how the media has portrayed this situation. That Ms. Obama was aggressive in her response. You know, essentially being the "angry black woman". We all know she shouldn't have said or done anything, after all, she's just the First Lady of the United States. What is the appropriate way to handle a heckler? What could have Michelle Obama done differently? I'm also curious as to why Ms. Sturtz wanted the FLOTUS to demand the POTUS sign an Executive Order. Was it simply for the awareness? Most likely, but let's be honest, Michelle isn't in Barack's office telling him what to do on a daily basis. Not to mention Barack Obama is the first president who has openly supported gay rights and marriage equality, so why demand that he is to sign the Executive Order, in a long uphill battle that is likely to come? Ms. Sturtz seems to think her and Michelle were on equal footing. They weren't. Ms. Sturtz disrespected Mrs. Obama, and now she wants to cry foul because Ms. Obama didn't just sit there and take it. Now Ms. Obama is the scary woman who "got in her face", instead of the First Lady of the United States who took a stand in how to respond to a heckler. Michelle Obama was the one interrupted, she was the one disrespected, but it seems Ms. Sturtz has now become "the victim".
I shouldn't be surprised at the response of the media or Ellen Sturtz. As a black woman, it's the quintessential stereotype. You're angry and full of attitude, because that is just how us black women are. I know I've talk to several other black woman who have been in similar situations. No matter how the approach was in a situation where there is a difference of opinion, or if you are given a position of power, you will be the rude, aggressive black woman who's intent it is to make everyone's lives hell.
The problem is, that isn't always the case, and I think in many instances when the "angry black woman" stereotype surfaces, it is really code for "you need to sit down, shut up, and just take it like you used to". Well the problem is no one has to sit and take it anymore. We're still needed to be passive for some people, and they fail to realize being passive has never really benefited anyone trying to gain equality or gain respect. I'm not saying black women are ball busters, we're just now on equal footing, and that makes some people uncomfortable, so even when we do the same things, they are perceived differently when someone else does it; and there is really nothing we can do to change the perception because it's a stereotype based upon outdated assumptions of woman and blacks in this country. It's 2013, not 1913 we're equals, and just because we are equals, doesn't mean we need to apologize for people's outdated expectations. So Michelle Obama can continue to handle business like she's always done, and it's the media and people like Ms. Sturtz who need to quit being "taken aback" anytime a black woman exercises her freedom to not want to be disrespected.