WASHINGTON -- In a first of its kind groundbreaking national study on the lives of college educated, accomplished black women, more than 87% of the black female survey respondents (n=540) believe that First Lady Michelle Obama has helped dispel negative stereotypes of accomplished black women in America.
The results of what author Sophia Nelson has dubbed as the "Age of Michelle Obama" survey are published in a new book Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama. Essence Magazine has hailed the book as a "Game Changer" for black women in America. The New York Post writes "At a moment of profound economic and cultural change for America, Black Woman Redefined comes along at the perfect time. While Sophia Nelson knows her target audience, she's also aware of the broader, diverse world. With solid research and a smooth inclusive voice, Nelson has produced a book that that holds lessons for many."
In this book, Nelson, a respected cultural and political thought leader, opinion writer and former national columnist for Jet Magazine, reveals a different side of black women that provides historical, anecdotal, and quantitative research on the lives of 21st century black women. The release of the book comes at a time when a recent article in Newsweek analyzed how poorly reality TV portrays successful black women like Nene & Star Jones on the top rated "Celebrity Apprentice" as well as a solid 12-month barrage of negativity lambasting black women from the Pepsi Super Bowl add to ABC's "Why Can't A Successful Black Woman Get a Man", "Black Marriage Negotiations" video and numerous other examples.
In addition to the national survey results, Nelson opens her much heralded book with an 'open letter' to the First Lady who is scheduled to make the commencement address at Spelman College this Sunday.
Nelson's book, which is a cover feature story in the June issue of Essence Magazine and set to be released May 31st, also dissects Mrs. Obama's professional success and family success in the context of how she is affirmatively "changing the game" in a positive direction for black women of a new generation in America.
Nelson opines in her letter to the First Lady that she has taught women of a new generation how to handle conflict and criticism with grace and class:
"You don't have to shout back at your critics or crawl into the pit of mudslinging with them. The best revenge (in life) is success, and success comes with a willingness to constantly reinvent, reform, and redefine the rules of the game, how you play the game, and what you consider a "win" at the end of the game."
Nelson uses proprietary national research (conducted with expert women's pollster Kellyanne Conway of The Polling Company, Inc./Woman Trend and noted black studies scholar Dr. Silas Lee, Silas Lee & Associates/Xavier University) and real-life stories to reveal what drives and perpetuates common myths and misconceptions of black women.
* Fully 87% of professional Black women credited First Lady Michelle Obama with dispelling stereotypes about the accomplishments and actualities of being a Black woman in America.
* The top descriptor words used in the 1,000 sample of all Americans to describe Mrs. Obama chose the following words: wife & mother (82%), intelligent (76%), strong-willed (71%), and accomplished (70%).
* The top descriptor words the BWR Black Female Sample Survey respondent (n=540) used to describe Mrs. Obama: intelligent (40%), accomplished (35%), wife and mother (28%), inspiring (26%), and role model (23%).
* White men had the least favorable opinions of Mrs. Obama and women in general (across race) had favorable responses toward her.
Celebrity guest contributors to the book include: CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Tom Joyner Morning Show's Roland S. Martin & Jeff Johnson, Academy award nominated actress Taraji Henson, For Colored Girls' Kimberly Elise along with Dr. Lamont Hill, Co-host of ABC's The View Sherri Shepherd, Congressmen Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) and many more.