Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Michelle Robinson Obama are two First Ladies of the United States whose racial-ethnic, personal, and family characteristics made them the objects of inordinate public fascination. Using Patricia Hill Collins's concept, the “outsider within,” this chapter explores Kennedy and Obama's emergence as cultural icons and their marginal relationship with the white Protestant American governing class. As wives of presidents and specific to her generation, each woman brought superior professional credentials to their public roles. As cultural icons who differ from the white racial frame, they are subjected to excessive media scrutiny, evaluation, and supervision. Both women exercise cultural agency from their positions as cultural icons, particularly utilizing ceremonial activities and the power of the White House to oppose cultural erasure and exclusion of minority groups and to provide models of social inclusion. Analysis of their roles highlights the continuing importance of wives to the acquisition and maintenance of power and to the role of elites in offering models of social justice.
Townsend Gilkes, C. (2010), "Outsiders within the higher circles: Two first ladies as cultural icons in a racialized politics of difference", Cunnigen, D. and Bruce, M. (Ed.) Race in the Age of Obama (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 55-75. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0195-7449(2010)0000016006Download as .RIS
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