Michelle Obama has a real problem with people who choose to live in exclusive neighborhoods, and she isn’t shy about sharing her feelings…from her expensive home on Martha’s Vineyard.
The former first lady spoke out about “white people” who moved away from minority neighborhoods – just weeks after the purchase of her new home on in the almost entirely white Martha’s Vineyard.
Martha’s Vineyard has a majority of white residents; 95% of the population is white, and just 2 percent is black. Despite this, Obama complained about the number of white residents who move out of minority neighborhoods for more upscale locales, totally omitting her own living choices.
“But unbeknownst to us, we grew up in the period — as I write — called ‘white flight.’ That as families like ours, upstanding families like ours … As we moved in, white folks moved out because they were afraid of what our families represented,” she said during a recent appearance at the Obama Foundation Summit.
Obama didn’t stop there.
“And I always stop there when I talk about this out in the world because, you know, I want to remind white folks that y’all were running from us,” the former first lady added. “This family with all the values that you’ve read about. You were running from us. And you’re still running, because we’re no different than the immigrant families that are moving in … the families that are coming from other places to try to do better.”
While the Obamas can and should purchase the home they want in the neighborhood they want, lecturing others about their own personal living choices and homes comes off as terribly hypocritical. In addition to the $15 million mansion in Martha’s Vineyard (again, 95 percent white and 2 percent black), the Obamas own a second home valued at $8 million in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington DC (80 percent white, 4 percent black), and a third home, in Rancho Mirage CA, in the $5 million range (80 percent white, 2.5 percent black).
Out of three homes (three more homes than many Americans own), the Obamas had three chances to practice what they’ve repeatedly preached, and set down roots in predominantly black neighborhoods. Even a more diverse neighborhood would make the criticism of others more palatable.
Seeking out neighborhoods with high property values and good schools is totally understandable, and the Obamas, as any other family, are free to make their own choices. The concern here is about the former first lady’s repeated mentions of the scourge of “white flight” when her own family has engaged in the same behavior.
In this viewpoint, the “white people” Michelle Obama is speaking of really can’t win – if they move from minority neighborhoods to areas that are less diverse, they are racist. Even if the move was prompted by a job transfer, hope for a larger home, better school district, or other reason that has nothing to do with the people around them.
Those same people who move into a minority neighborhood are also racist – because they are engaging in gentrification or cultural appropriation.
In the former first lady’s view, there is no way to win or to make the right choices, at least if you are a white homeowner.