When all is said and done—and written—I really want just want to be popular in high school. I want to be liked, and better than that, understood....
It wasn’t really about her butt (though that was a lively starting point, for sure), it was about the psychological impact of having a First Lady who is black and, for the first time in history, who looks like me.
It was about a flesh-and-blood physical representation and affirmation that black women, and black people, have never, ever had before. It was about the American social register being turned upside down and blacks being suddenly at the top of the page instead of stuck at the bottom, or stuck wherever people want us stuck.
Lastly, but most importantly, it was about black people holding up long-debased ideas about ourselves—starting with physical ideas--to the light and saying: I’m not so bad. In fact, I’m great.
Ultimately, my piece was about removing the lens of white scrutiny and approval from the black gaze and seeing what lies underneath.
She sounds particularly disheartened that other blacks have criticized her piece. Kaplan also links to a reprint of her famed (or notorious, depending on your view) and more personal 1997 LA Weekly cover story, "The Butt: Its politics, Its Profanity, Its Power."
Catania's blog: The travails of training for the Los Angeles Marathon as a non-runner. Run On