This Tweet About the Obamas Caused Major Backlash

October 9th 2015

Diana Crandall

A meme portraying President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama is going viral this week after Twitter user @itsTheJoJohnson posted a picture of the first family with text underneath that some say paints Michelle in a negative light.

Barack And Michelle Obama Meme

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What's the problem with this?

Black Twitter reacted strongly to the post, with many arguing that it suggests that Michelle Obama — who is one of the world’s most successful women — got to where she is today because of her husband. Others felt it was a misguided attempt at suggesting that women should date slackers and hope they turn out to be successful.

Reagan Gomez Tweet About Barack And Michelle Obama

@itsTheJoJohnson, the creator of the meme, defended himself, saying it wasn't his intention to comment on the Obama's marriage. Another Twitter user fired back, arguing that it doesn't matter what the intention behind the meme was.

Jo Johnson Tweets

Shaun King, an author and well-respected civil rights activist, also reacted very strongly to the meme, writing an entire article criticizing the meme. This response has gone viral in its own right.

“Michelle Obama is a badass,” King wrote.“For almost their entire adult lives, she made more money than he did… she has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard. Nobody — not her husband, or anybody else — gave her the world. They are equal partners in life.”

King went on to criticize the implications of the photo, directly calling out the original poster, who goes by Jo Johnson, on Twitter.

Shaun King Jo Johnson Twitter Disagreement

Jo Johnson Tweets Shaun King

A societal shift

They quickly put the disagreement to rest, with King wishing Johnson well. But the reactions to the meme speak to a societal shift. Some believe that relationships should be seen as partnerships, not used to fulfill one person's wants or needs, but to work together to build success and happiness, both independently and together. Kind of like the Obamas.

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