Wednesday, September 03, 2008
THE SHELTERED THESIS
What is it about the 1985 Princeton thesis written by Michelle Obama that prompted Princeton to withdraw it from circulation until Nov. 5, 2008?
Jeffrey Ressner at Politico asks:
Michelle Obama's senior year thesis at Princeton University, obtained from the campaign by Politico, shows a document written by a young woman grappling with a society in which a black Princeton alumnus might only be allowed to remain "on the periphery." Read the full thesis here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before," the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."
The thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community" and written under her maiden name, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, in 1985, has been the subject of much conjecture on the blogosphere and elsewhere in recent weeks, as it has been "temporarily withdrawn" from Princeton's library until after this year's presidential election in November. Some of the material has been written about previously, however, including a story last year in the Newark Star Ledger....
Earlier this week, commentator Jonah Goldberg remarked on National Review Online, "A reader in the know informs me that Michelle Obama's thesis ... is unavailable until Nov. 5, 2008, at the Princeton library. I wonder why."
As noted in the above quoete, Politico claims that the thesis was provided to them. They have posted it on the website. In reading through the Conclusion, I found:
If Black students want to have certain speakers or programs, catering to their interests, they must form separate groups within the University, i.e., the Organization of Black Unity, the Princeton University Black Thoughts Table, the Society of Black Engineers.(p. 58)
She was proposing a separate but equal arrangement. Wasn't that what all of the legislation, busing, race riots, and quotas were about stopping? Yet here she was back in 1985 promoting segregation. I can see why Princeton might refuse to release the thesis until after the election in order to defend their grad. One has to wonder, did she change her mind in the intervening years? Is she willing to work with whites as though they and Blacks belong to the same culture now? Or does she want still to promote a Black culture distinguishable from white culture with separate but equal lifestyles?