Here were two comments readers sent to me:
... The portrait of the old, dead, white guy in the background is funny. The Great White Man theory of history laid to rest? OR: Is that a slave-owning president? Jefferson? Looking over the Obama's shoulders? Also a funny visual. Possessively touching the table: we're here, we earned it. (Ryan)
By the way, if anyone thinks this choice of background could have been coincidental, the fact that MO is posing with Jefferson would be virtually inescapable to her (and might explain the rest of the composition, especially her awkward orientation to the drapes.) A week-and-a-half ago, for example, in one of her first public events, Mrs. Obama hosted an event for grade school children in the East Room.
Here's a snip from the Detroit Free Press article:
Foot-stomping music filled the East Room of the White House today as first lady Michelle Obama hosted nearly 200 schoolchildren for a Black History Month celebration featuring Sweet Honey in the Rock, an award-winning female a cappella ensemble.
Obama seemed a bit surprised when the sixth- and seventh-graders from three local schools said yes, they knew slaves helped build the White House, that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation upstairs in a bedroom named for him, and that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders met in the building with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss the end of segregation.
"So you guys know your history. That's a good thing," she said. "That means your parents and teachers are doing their jobs."
Besides keying us to the fact Mrs. Obama is thoroughly aware of the racial history and "topography" of the house she's living in, she also implies -- as "First Mom" -- it's part of her job to clue us as well.
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(photo: Joyce Boghosian/White House)