As a woman, I am horrified by the petition being circulated on Change.org by Topeka High School senior Taylor Gifford to uninvite the First Lady of the United States to speak at her high school graduation. It makes the campaign to eliminate the word “bossy” seem ridiculous and shows we have more than words to fix if we want to build a generation of women who respect one another. I’ve heard it over and over that this generation we’re unleashing is the “me” generation and the example that some of Topeka’s students and parents have set is proving to the world that narcissism a building block in America’s once patriotic culture.
John Mariani with Syracuse.com cited the senior as wanting the district to reconsider and “find a way to record Obama’s speech for replay at all of them.” Why?
Mariani writes, “I’m the oldest of eight,” she said. There were her parents to think about, too, as well as family friends who had planned to drive in from outside Kansas for commencement. “These are people that have watched me grow up and become the person I am.”
According to Mariani, “While the Topeka High School senior was thrilled when she learned that Obama would speak at commencement, Gifford said she grew disappointed when she found out that tickets might be limited and she would have to choose which relatives could watch her graduate.”
I have a teen. Trade out Michelle Obama with 1 Direction, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Drake or even Justin Bieber and the long distance family members are sure to get kicked to the curb. Our kids love us. They know we’re proud, but when it comes to their circle of influence, musical royalty is their demigod. And it’s why I think this whole petition is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as large families like Gifford’s who think she’s entitled a block of 20 seats.
But let’s look at the real reason Mrs. Obama is coming – the 60th Anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. This was a landmark case that was pivotal in American education and Topeka should embrace their connection to it. It’s their legacy. It’s not the grades they received throughout high school or the superlatives or even which college they’ll be attending. In the end, they need to remember what and who they are as citizens of the U.S. and the greater global universe. They should mark this anniversary by having the First Lady of the United States speak about it. Look at the photo below. Could these young girls have ever imagined that a black woman would be commemorating this more than half a century later as the First Lady and she would be black. Amazing.
This is an exceptional milestone. In the end, people just like to be indignant. We need to teach our girls better. I’ve created an Instagram: BrownvsBoard with images from the story since kids love Instagram. Maybe that will drive an interest in the history importance of Mrs. Obama’s speech. Perhaps I should have titled it: Harry Styles without a Shirt?