Of course there's huge buzz about what Mrs. O will wear to the Ball. The Daily Beast has this about a design challenge from writer and critic Hailey Eber, who asked some Project Runway designers to come up with an idea. They were allowed: Laura Bush's 2005 gown, to repurpose; an American flag; $10 worth of trim; and burlap potato sacks.
The problem: The comments about this post point out that burlap potato sacks would have made up a huge part of a slave's wardrobe. And the commentators object, for good reason. (A very brief glance around the Internet reveals that it is indeed the case that burlap was worn by slaves, as here.) So, yeah, the person should not have included this.
My guess is that there will be further missteps like this in the near future. Many, many white people in this country have little or no contact with African-American culture and history, let alone black people themselves, in their daily life. This isn't to say we don't have to call people out on their mistakes, just that we shouldn't be surprised when they are made by even well-meaning (i.e., essentially not racist) people. White America can look forward to being educated as it gets to know the Obamas. That said the person who put together the contest should apologize immediately. That's my .02 about that — do you agree?
The contest was still a great idea. Maybe they could sub in newspaper, like any November 4 edition, instead of the burlap!