NPR logo Black Designer Rep. To Michelle Obama: 'That Was Our Moment'

Black Designer Rep. To Michelle Obama: 'That Was Our Moment'

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance together at the Obama Home States Inaugural Ball in Washington. Charlie Neibergall, AP Photo hide caption

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Charlie Neibergall, AP Photo

A group called the Black Artists Association is publicly admonishing First Lady Michelle Obama for not wearing works by black designers during the inauguration festivities.

The group's cofounder, Amnau Eele, unleashed her vitriol to fashion industry magazine Women's Wear Daily (emphasis ours):

... Cofounder Amnau Eele said Wednesday she will make a formal appeal to the First Lady's office on behalf of the BAA. "It's fine and good if you want to be all 'Kumbaya' and 'We Are the World' by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?" Eele said. The BAA leader was a runway model in her own right for Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Bill Blass and others.

Asked if perhaps the First Lady isn't looking at the world colorlessly, Eele said, "It's one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn't she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment."

The blog Michelle Obama Watch which — as the name suggests — tracks "anything to do with Michelle," writes in response:

"Funny. I thought it was HER moment after sacrificing her life and the lives of her children to allow her husband to run for and win the White House. I listened to the inaugural speeches and did not hear anything about the INAUGURATION being a moment for Black fashion designers."

What's your assessment? Do the Obamas, in fact, have an added responsibility to promote black businesses?