(Thumbnail image from Barack Obama Campaign via The New York Times)

 

“An amazing story tonight, one we’re not used to covering. It is so new. A New York Times examination of Michelle Obama’s family tree shows a lineage that in just five generations goes from slave to First Lady, of course. In this 1852 slave owner inventory Michelle Obama’s great, great, great maternal grandmother is valued at, well, there it is, $475. That’s what slaves, that’s how they did it, like property.”

(MSNBC)


The publication of this story has prompted reaction in the media and the blogosphere. Newsy takes a look at reactions and issues from CNN, The Guardian, Gawker, MSNBC, Jezebel.com and Times Online.

 

Michelle Obama’s family history is not a new story. Earlier this year, CNN was the first television network allowed to shoot video showing a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots.

 

“Humid, wet, mosquito-infested, overgrown. It was a sprawling South Carolina rice plantation in the 1800s. This is where Michelle Obama’s family believes her great, great grandfather Jim Robinson spent his life and where he toiled in the relentless Carolina sun.”

 

The first thing that came to commentators minds was – is Michelle Obama’s story really news? The Guardian says yes and explains why.

 

“This story highlights the fallacy of racial categorisation. It goes some way towards eroding the notion that there is any such distinct thing as 'black' or 'white' or that people of mixed racial heritage have a particular caramel coloured skin tone.”

 

Still, others find the story unsettling. A report on the blog Jezebel.com says...

 

“Probing one's past can lead to all kinds of revelations, all of which are not necessarily for public consumption… And having a deeply personal part of one's ancestry out for the world to comment upon is a little unnerving. I don't think what the reporters did was wrong - but as a person who also only has a hazy grasp of her ancestry, I just find it unsettling.”

 

The blog Gawker speculates on reaction to the story.

 

“This is news why? …On one hand the tale's an important, if not unpleasant, reminder of this nation's ugly, noxious past. On the other, however, it may only inflame all those anti-Obama racists roaming out there.”

 

Many are asking what was Michelle Obama’s reaction to the story? MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talked to The New York Times reporter who wrote the article about the issue of privacy.

 

“We worked with the First Lady’s office kind of behind the scenes on the story. We kept them apprised of what we were doing. And at no point did they say to us, we think this is inappropriate or it’s making us really uncomfortable. They didn’t have that much to add, but they were very interested in our findings. And we were able to get some of the documents to Mrs. Obama ahead of time because we wanted her to have a chance to digest some of this before it went public.”


And finally, the UK’s Times Online reports that the story could lead to further discussion on interracial relationships.

 

“It will intensify public interest in the highly charged historical debate on miscegenation — the widespread practice of interracial sex — that has permeated American demography for centuries, even though it was illegal in some states until the 1960s.”

 

So do you think the story is newsworthy?

Michelle Obama’s Slave Roots

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Oct 11, 2009

Michelle Obama’s Slave Roots

(Thumbnail image from Barack Obama Campaign via The New York Times)

 

“An amazing story tonight, one we’re not used to covering. It is so new. A New York Times examination of Michelle Obama’s family tree shows a lineage that in just five generations goes from slave to First Lady, of course. In this 1852 slave owner inventory Michelle Obama’s great, great, great maternal grandmother is valued at, well, there it is, $475. That’s what slaves, that’s how they did it, like property.”

(MSNBC)


The publication of this story has prompted reaction in the media and the blogosphere. Newsy takes a look at reactions and issues from CNN, The Guardian, Gawker, MSNBC, Jezebel.com and Times Online.

 

Michelle Obama’s family history is not a new story. Earlier this year, CNN was the first television network allowed to shoot video showing a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots.

 

“Humid, wet, mosquito-infested, overgrown. It was a sprawling South Carolina rice plantation in the 1800s. This is where Michelle Obama’s family believes her great, great grandfather Jim Robinson spent his life and where he toiled in the relentless Carolina sun.”

 

The first thing that came to commentators minds was – is Michelle Obama’s story really news? The Guardian says yes and explains why.

 

“This story highlights the fallacy of racial categorisation. It goes some way towards eroding the notion that there is any such distinct thing as 'black' or 'white' or that people of mixed racial heritage have a particular caramel coloured skin tone.”

 

Still, others find the story unsettling. A report on the blog Jezebel.com says...

 

“Probing one's past can lead to all kinds of revelations, all of which are not necessarily for public consumption… And having a deeply personal part of one's ancestry out for the world to comment upon is a little unnerving. I don't think what the reporters did was wrong - but as a person who also only has a hazy grasp of her ancestry, I just find it unsettling.”

 

The blog Gawker speculates on reaction to the story.

 

“This is news why? …On one hand the tale's an important, if not unpleasant, reminder of this nation's ugly, noxious past. On the other, however, it may only inflame all those anti-Obama racists roaming out there.”

 

Many are asking what was Michelle Obama’s reaction to the story? MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talked to The New York Times reporter who wrote the article about the issue of privacy.

 

“We worked with the First Lady’s office kind of behind the scenes on the story. We kept them apprised of what we were doing. And at no point did they say to us, we think this is inappropriate or it’s making us really uncomfortable. They didn’t have that much to add, but they were very interested in our findings. And we were able to get some of the documents to Mrs. Obama ahead of time because we wanted her to have a chance to digest some of this before it went public.”


And finally, the UK’s Times Online reports that the story could lead to further discussion on interracial relationships.

 

“It will intensify public interest in the highly charged historical debate on miscegenation — the widespread practice of interracial sex — that has permeated American demography for centuries, even though it was illegal in some states until the 1960s.”

 

So do you think the story is newsworthy?

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