Michelle Obama's Inaugural Fashion Draws Criticism

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News & Notes Web producer Geoffrey Bennett and Tony Cox talk about the latest topics on our blog, including a complaint about Michelle Obama's inaugural fashion choices and reaction to a recent bloggers' roundtable segment.

TONY COX, host:

I'm Tony Cox and this is News & Notes.

First lady Michelle Obama is catching heat from some black designers over her inauguration fashion choices. It's the latest topic catching attention on our blog, Newsandviews, and Geoffrey Bennett is here to tell us about it. Geoffrey is the digital producer for News & Notes. Hey, Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY BENNETT: Hi, Tony.

COX: So the honeymoon, fashion-wise, let's say, is over for Michelle Obama. Tell us about the criticism that she's getting and the response on our blog.

BENNETT: Well, the co-founder of a group called The Black Artist Association said in an interview with Women's Wear Daily that Michelle Obama was wrong for not choosing to wear designs by black designers. And so he says, quote, "It's fine and good if you want to be all kumbaya and we-are- the-world by representing all different countries. 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." End quote.

And Tammy Woodward(ph), one of our News & Notes listeners, said, "Mrs. Obama looked wonderful, and I personally never cared who made them. Honestly, don't the Obamas have more than enough to worry about besides the ethnicity of clothing designers?" And Leslie Sarag(ph) wrote this. "The Obama presidency is in many ways a culmination of the civil rights struggles of the '60s, in which blacks and whites, Jews and Christians, young and old participated. I like it that the Obamas are not narrowing that field, but rather broadening it.

COX: People are definitely having their opinions, aren't they. Monday's Bloggers' Roundtable is getting some attention online as well. Tell us about that.

BENNETT: Yet more on the issue of Obama. (laughing)You can't get enough of the Obamas around here, apparently. It was a conversation about a study that purported to show President Obama's presence in the White House having a positive effect on black students' achievement - academic achievement. And blogger Chris Rabb of Afro-Netizen said this.

(Soundbite of Bloggers' Roundtable, January 26, 2009)

Mr. CHRIS RABB (Blogger, Afro-Netizen): I previously had promoted learning and books and like veteran teachers to teach our children, but now I think if they see a black president, we don't need to invest in education any more. They can just have a poster of a black person in the classroom, and that probably will, you know, resolve the whole educational disparities in our country. It's fascinating.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BENNETT: Some response on our website. Beth Martinez(ph), one of our listeners, wrote, "Chris Rabb from Afro-Netizen is the voice of reason on this bogus study result. The key to academic success is hard work and parental involvement." And Jerry Blackwell(ph) says, "It's not enough to look at Obama's skin color and features and say, because I can see some black African features, I, too, can do what he did."

COX: Well, on our show, we've also been warning our listeners about the coming digital television conversion. There's been some action on that just today.

BENNETT: There has. It appears as if the delay that the Obama administration wanted will not happen. The switch from analog to digital TV takes place on February 17th. So anyone who has a TV that uses an antenna or rabbit ears or whatever to get a signal runs the risk of going dark if they hadn't by now purchase a converter box. And the reason for that delay was because - the reason the Obama administration wanted the delay was because the government fund that was distributing vouchers to offset the costs of those boxes has run out of money.

COX: It's a mess, isn't it?

BENNETT: Yeah.

COX: Yeah, it's confusing. Well, I have both, actually, at my house, satellite and rabbit ears. So I have to get that box to get my rabbit ears to continue to work.

BENNETT: So ESPN will not be going dark.

COX: No, it will not.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: Thank you very much, Geoffrey. Geoffrey Bennett is the digital producer for News & Notes. He joined me here in the studios of NPR West.

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