Michelle Obama and the FLOTUS Effect

Platform, Presence, and Agency

Michelle Obama and the FLOTUS Effect
Heather E Harris, Kimberly R Moffitt, Geraud Blanks, Sherella Cupid, Erin F Doss, Ernestine A W Duncan, Sarah C Dweik, Diane Forbes Berthoud, Sharoni Denise Little, Tahira Chloe Mahdi
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"The FLOTUS Effect" emphasizes the import of agency on the part of Michelle Obama in relation to her politics as evidenced in her positionality and presence as the first African American woman to serve as First Lady of the United States of America. Her occupation of a previously white space and place tended to frame her as an enigma in the American mind and media. Contributors reflect on Mrs. Obama' s eight years in her ceremonial position, and the ways she chose to uniquely embody her role. Hence, the result is a volume that speculates upon her evolving legacy, and the likely "effects" of what it meant to be the first African-American woman to serve in the ceremonial, yet powerful, role of FLOTUS.
This laudatory collection conveys first-rate analyses of how Michelle Obama embodied her extraconstitutional role as first lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Editors Harris (Stevenson Univ. ) and Moffitt (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County) bring together contributions stressing both the uniqueness of the first African American FLOTUS and her agency in highlighting the intersectionality of gender, race, and class. Essays grapple with her physicality, as presented, perceived, and inappropriately commented on, and her self-identification as "Mom-in-Chief," forcing a vital debate on-even a redefinition of-feminist perspectives. Several authors emphasize the role of FLOTUS in influencing policy, coupled with her ability to serve as a link to the real world for the president. Among other former first ladies, Michelle Obama enters a small cadre with her unique capacity to retain her self-professed parental role while simultaneously serving as a public representative, promoting participatory engagement among Americans through her varied campaigns. This volume presents enlightening and diverse scholarship on Michelle Obama' s distinctive impact as a "public policy participant," using her own feminine rhetorical style to relate personal experience and African American experiences to all Americans and "contradict and counteract derogatory ideas and images. " Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. * CHOICE * Admired for her grace, fashion sense, and motherly politics, Michelle Obama is referred to as America' s "Forever First Lady. " This volume demonstrates that in spite of her flaws, political silences, and constrained actions, The FLOTUS Effect of Michelle Obama has tangibly changed our culture, our view of Black women and girls and has left an indelible impact on the office of the First Lady. This is a must-read volume for those interested in the intersection of race, gender, representation, politics, and communication. -- Nadia E. Brown, Purdue University Michelle Obama will go down in history as one of the most engaged, active and ground-breaking first ladies to serve in that role. In addition to her being the first African American, she was among the most educated who also had worked decades in her own highly professional legal and managerial career before ascending to her position. During her eight-year tenure she initiated several programs and was purposeful about opening up the White House to make it the "people' s house. " As she made the undefined role of First Lady her own, she endured a different type of scrutiny and criticism than her predecessors. She also inspired a sense of pride and inspiration that propelled her into being considered the most admired woman in the world. The FLOTUS Effect: Reflections on the Platform, Presence and Agency of Michelle Obama is an important work that includes numerous voices that reflect on, examine, and capture how she represented not only herself, but African American women, and the country on an international stage. -- Michelle Duster, Co-editor, Michelle Obama' s Impact on African American Women and Girls, author, speaker, educator, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Heather E. Harris is professor of communication at Stevenson University. Kimberly R. Moffitt is associate professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.