dear new england historical society: no, a white woman was not the first Black first lady

i am not here to play. there will be no gifs.

my last post was about first ladies and whiteness, and lo! we meet at that potuck again.

(via the new england historical society)

let me begin by saying, unequivocally, no, no jackie kennedy was not the first Black first lady. michelle obama was the first Black first lady. Continue reading

on jackie, letters, love, and the english lord

holy moses, it’s been awhile.

mostly because the hubbub over this english lord nonsense was so nonsensical that it was exhausting, so i just did a big eye-roll and lived my life. a sloooooow big eye-roll mind you because the story of these letters has been like a dripping faucet, where you know it’s dripping and there’s nothing you can do about it but people keep coming into the room to say, OMG, IT’S DRIPPING!!! as though this is a revelation.

while the existence of letters is exciting and the existence of actual words is indeed a legit news story, the enthusiasm with which these particular letters and these actual words have been met- in particular, the GUSH of ink- seems a bit out of proportion with the letters and words themselves.

but then mayhaps you are like, OLINE, WHAT IS THIS OF WHICH YOU SPEAK??! let’s take this double-quick… Continue reading

a gentle reminder re: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversation on Life with John F. Kennedy (the book i’ve not yet read/the tapes i’ve not yet heard)

there’s an account of jackie that stands out to me among all the others, if only because it’s irreconcilable with the woman the media portrays.

it comes from an old female acquaintance, who complained of jacqueline during the 1940s: “she had so many sides. she behaved very capriciously. she’d be very seductive to a man at a party, sitting next to him, and then stub her cigarette on his hand.”

this is the jackie i love. the ballsy bitch beneath the breathy voice. this is also, from the sound of it, the jackie that the world will be meeting through the jackie tapes. a woman both cuttingly perceptive and astonishingly catty.

the jackie tapes are fascinating, yes (i assume). they teach us many things we did not know (jackie disliked mlk! and degaulle! and lbj! and ted sorenson!) and remind us of others (she love loved andré malraux).

my one concern about these tapes is this: they represent jackie at one point in time. and, if jackie teaches us anything, it is that it’s dangerous to reduce anyone to a single story. we are all more complex, more nuanced than any interview or anecdote could ever convey.