Healthy Level of Self Respect: Michelle Obama Confronts Heckler


michelle fundraiserBy Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Recently, at a charity event, a gay woman must have lost her mind because she thought that the best way to get what she wanted from President Obama was to show up at an event where First Lady Michelle Obama was speaking and heckle her.

The reason why I mention that the heckler was a gay woman was that she was heckling the First Lady because she wanted President Obama to sign a bill banning all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against gay people.

Mrs Obama is reported to have stepped away from the podium and walked over to the woman , looked her in the eyes and made it clear that she would not tolerate her behavior.

At no time during the event, can anyone say that the First lady did not conduct herself with the class, grace and style that we know her for. That being said, though, the first lady did have to get firm with the woman. What I really love about this interaction is that it shows that a woman does not have to sacrifice her dignity in order to get people to like her and she does not have to yell and scream to be heard.

Many women, especially Black women, seem to think that in order to be respected, they have to get loud and “ghetto”. Unfortunately, this approach typically has the opposite results from what it was intended. When a woman starts yelling and screaming, it makes people feel like she lacks self control and self respect and they typically do not respect her.

There are women who operate on one end of the spectrum, where they are overly “nice” and even when they are offended, do not speak up because they think people will think they are overreacting. Then there are those who do overreact and make a spectacle of themselves.

I applaud Mrs. Obama for so gracefully demonstrating the middle ground; be firm and let a person know your boundaries but don’t get emotional about it and don’t be too “nice” either.

Nomalanga helps Black women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s Facebook page or Follow her on Twitter 



  1. Griffin LaChere on

    I was with this reporter until they decided to go left and put down black women as if we're the only race of women who get loud or very vocal when we're angered. The "especially black women" comment was completely unnecessary. People no matter what the race act differently when angered. It's just that stories of blacks acting excessively to a situation is what gets put on-air, or printed in the newspaper. If I recall correctly all the "ghettos" I've been to have had multiple races living there.

  2. Shirley Gallagher on

    That's what I am talking about. That's the First Lady of the UNITED STATE. Mrs Michelle Obama.
    That over the top heckler was put in her place by First Lady Michelle Obama. LOL!

  3. Help me hear but I have never heard anyone heckling any other first lady.The First Lady Michelle Beautiful Obama is not the president the American people elected.I know that many people are not going to want to hear this but hear is European Racism again raising its ugly head.There were no one fighting for rights until enslaved Africans living in the land of the free started it.Check that out.The American people were all comfortable with life as it was until John Brown fought against it and the hung him.

  4. Couldn’t really appreciate the article for my anger over the fact that she put down black women. Wasn’t necessary and didn’t add a thing to the article. Must add that Mrs Obama’s response was absolutely appropriate. Whis she had been there when the Arizona gov disrespected her husband

    • Thank you for your comment on the article “Healthy Level of Self Respect: Michelle Obama Confronts Heckler”.

      The writer had a substantive platform to speak about a real life issue, but there is a lack of fleshed-out moments that could have been written to stimulate thought-growth. The article is offensive and filled with layers of ethnocentrism and a bias that continues to negatively assign and sentence people to case typing.

      The author had opportunities to address behaviors germane to all humans—but did not. The writer could have cross-pollinated and Venn-diagramed the similarities of Mrs. Michelle Obama and the woman who heckled her such as both having a mission, an appeal, and a need to articulate their positions—but the article did not. Instead, the presentation was filled with fragmentation as issues and ideas that could have—with the same amount of words—been qualified, but they were not.

      I did experience a bit of mental whetting when the continuum ranged from self-minimizing to hyper reactionary responses—but this too was underdeveloped. Thank you for opening this thought-strand.

  5. This woman is from Africa and some black women in Africa tend to have a very derogatory and stereotypical view of black American women. They too cling to nasty imagery of black American women base on what is shown on television, some blogs, and whatever interaction they may have had with black American women on a daily basis. Don't forget, whatever the minority of black American women do is an "accurate" representation of what ALL of us do. I could make gross generalizations of blacks in Africa, but I am too educated to be that ignorant.

  6. While I was happy to read about the way Mrs. Obama handled the heckler, this article lost me when the writer 'ineffectively' mentioned that 'black women' get loud and ghetto. Really! This sounds like she put a dig into all black women. Wow, I lost the entire article to this statement. Nomalanga, if you HELP black women to thrive try to re-visit the idea that language is everything cause (or should I say cuz) continuing with this kind of stuff HOPEFULLY will lose your audience.

  7. I totally agree with Griffin and Women Who Matter! I’m really sick of hearing from the media about black women ranking number one in something perceived negatively—abortions, births out of wedlock, multiple baby fathers, etc. Contrary to popular defenses and beliefs…black women are not alone in these statistics. “White women, Hispanic Women, Asian Women, etc, do it, too”. So PLEASE, ENOUGH ALREADY! STOP!

  8. Keepingitreal on

    2 points

    1. The heckler was definitely crazy, tired of these incidents. Remember “You Lie” by Joe Wilson.

    2. The author said “especially black women”. Think this is feeding an unfair stereotype. Black women are not the only ones who get angry

  9. We are so proud of you America’s Beautiful Inteligent and Special more than First Lady.You and United States Great President, President Obama are doing a more than exceptional job.God sent you to teach the world. TEACH.

  10. William H Leonard on

    The first lady handle this nicely and made the heckler look like a dumb bunny. Their are those who try to down the black race no matter what is done like no one in other race do the same if in the same situation.

  11. Really "Many women, especially Black women, seem to think that in order to be respected, they have to get loud and “ghetto”. This article was ok up until that point. Perhaps the author ought examine the causative factors as to why SOME black women behave this way. Everyone is different in their upbringing, surroundings etc. Throw any other race of woman in the GHETTO and see if they are whistling, skipping and tooting a loo. Race alone does not determine how someone reacts, I thought we learned this back in grade school.

  12. Lula B. Samuel on

    I too agree with you Griffin LaChere. if you put anyone in a given situation anger can be aroused color has nothing to do with how you react.

  13. Chevas Samuels on

    "… Especally black women"? Why "especially black women"? Did I not just see a video of a white woman going nutty on a Dunkin Donuts guy over a receipt? I wish you–and many others–would stop associating 'ghetto' with the black race. It's damaging. *sigh*

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