Quick Hit: The Green House

Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor and fearless commentator, has a great post up over at The Kitchen Table about the media’s obsession with Michelle Obama’s new commitment to gardening at The White House. An excerpt:

In planting her garden Michelle Obama is drawing on traditions of American localism, a growing spirit of American environmentalism, and even a deep, black, Southern tradition of family farming. In this age of global commerce and interdependence, her vegetable garden is a symbol of self-reliance. As the economy declines, she is ensuring that something will grow. Planting food is always a symbol of hope because it requires faith in the unseen; the belief that something sustaining can emerge from a small seed. The new vegetable garden is a perfect political symbol for our country in this moment.
Gardens also have particular meaning for African American women. Alice Walker wrote of being in search of our mother’s gardens. Walker explains that gardens were creative outlets for black women whose labor and family obligations often frustrated their artistic genius and left them little opportunity for self expression. Michelle Obama’s garden manifests and makes concrete these black feminist tradition in such an inclusive and fully American way. It is as though she will symbolically nourish a nation from the deep tradition of black women artists while retaining her agency and personal power.

Check out the rest here.

Join the Conversation

  • pleco

    “…about the media’s obsession with Michelle Obama’s new commitment to gardening at The White House.”
    It read to me more like a post about the author’s obsession with media reaction to the new garden, which turned out to be unwarranted. However, it was still interesting to read about the meaning of gardens in the history of black women.

  • kelseyfro7

    Is that what she gardens in?

  • puckalish

    it’s a careful balance to be presidentially photogenic and to be dirt-ready…
    one of my questions about this, though, is how could so many presidential families have moved through that house since Eleanor Roosevelt started a garden without reviving the garden… i mean, really?
    go Michelle Obama!

  • WIDave

    So we’re back to victory gardens again?


    It’s a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY – her stylists picked that outfit out, after conferring with her public relations people on what outfit would send the right Message in the pictures.
    I’m sure if you were able to do a 360 degree navigation with that photo, you’d see all of the First Lady’s “handlers” standing around, fretting over lighting and camera angles and ‘staying on message’ and all that other stuff.
    And that’s not even getting into the photoshop work that the retouchers did on the picture before it went on the wires.
    I’m sure when there are no cameras around, she wears something a whole hell of a lot more practical.

  • Femimax

    …It’s just gardening. Why the hell is the media (or feministing, for that matter) even mentioning it? It’s about as interesting as a piece of lint. No, seriously. “The new vegetable garden is a perfect political symbol for our country in this moment.” Am I the only person who thinks this is over the top? Not to mention irrelevant?

  • Mark Spencer

    Now that the garden is in place, what about a nice fresh coat of solar panels? Carter had them in place, but Reagan removed them. Time for Obama to restore them?