Michelle Obama is a Life Saver. Truly.
I was digging through my stuff to find her book, Becoming, so I could write this blog and inside was my birth certificate and social security card I had been scavenging around for, for weeks. I remember I stuffed those documents inside for safekeeping until I sorted a new home for them. Ugh, wow. Thanks, Obama.
No, but in all seriousness, I am a die-hard supporter of the former First Lady. Of course, I read her memoir, Becoming. Many people did as it was a New York Times Best Seller and listed on Oprah’s Book Club.
I loved it. You should read it. After reading this, order yourself a copy and devour it up.
Michelle is the epitome of wisdom, intelligence, humility, class and empathy. She is who I strive to be. Honestly, when I envision myself as a grown adult killing it in the game, I refer to Michelle Obama in her early years, before even becoming First Lady.
(Cough, cough, read her book, cough). I digress; here is why I respect Michelle so much.
Firstly, her mother wasn’t afraid to pull her daughter out of a hostile, unproductive learning environment for the betterment of her future. She had parents who were supportive of her daughter’s education equal to her brother. She writes, “I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn… They’re not ‘bad kids’. They’re trying to survive bad circumstances” (Obama 22).
That stuck with me. It was one of the many epiphanies I had in regards to my privilege. My parents weren’t in a position to relocate me to another school, but I grew up in a middle class town with a proper education system. My efforts were acknowledged and rewarded.
How many others were told they would never amount to anything? How many were dismissed as early as elementary school and continued until their eventual drop out. This concept of thinking can contribute to any aspect of life. What if my mother married a white American man? What if my dad was a refugee instead of an immigrant? What if I was born in another country? Would my situation have differed?
Michelle was the unofficial ambassador for the United States we all needed. I’m sure there were a few First Ladies in our history who maintained their own identity separate from their husbands, but Michelle was the first in my lifetime. She didn’t overstep her position as First Lady, which technically doesn’t comprise of any official responsibilities, but didn’t hide in the shadows.
Michelle, a Princeton and Harvard graduate, used her platform accordingly. She is an eloquent, articulate public speaker with the ability to captivate any room. I mean, there is a reason she became so beloved that she was the star showcase at events. She promoted healthy living, sponsoring her Get Fit and Let’s Move initiatives, while growing a garden at the White House. She supported military families and empowered young girls through her Let Girls Learn program. More than 60 million girls worldwide still do not have equal access to education. As famed journalist, activist and feminist Jovita Idár says, “When you educate a woman, you educate a family”, and in partnership with the White Houses, the Peace Corps and the Department of State, the initiative helped enhance existing programs, purchase school supplies, train teachers and encourage other organizations and private sectors to invest themselves into increased enrollment and continuity in these programs.
Michelle helped raise two tremendously smart, grounded, sweet daughters through their eight years in office. Sasha and Malia Obama were named some of the most influential teens by Time Magazine in 2014 and 2015, but Michelle was quick to dispute the claim, reminding everyone that all the girls do is live in the White House.
It was refreshing to hear a public figure as impactful and powerful as Michelle, react the same way my own mother would should I have accredited such an odd accolade for doing literally nothing. She kept it real! In her book, Michelle notes that, “It meant one thing to be a child in the White House. It meant something different to try to emerge from it as an adult. How could Malia have guessed that she’d have men with guns following her to prom someday? Or that people would take photos of her sneaking a cigarette and sell them to gossipy websites” (Obama 391).
Michelle is tall, strong, fit and fabulous! She embodies the spirit of a real working woman. There was a major debacle about a time when she chose to bare her arms but honestly, I would kill to look anyway similar to Mrs. Obama when I’m her age. She reigns supreme.
The first time I ever heard of the term, Black Girl Magic, was in reference to Michelle Obama. She is unapologetically black during a time when African Americans sought out hope and vision from not only the first black President, who just so happens to be a man, but also from a strong, supporting black woman. She also continues to challenge the misguided confusion many black Americans are forced to reprise; Why do you sound white?
She writes, “..After I’d met and married my husband– a man who is light-skinned to some and dark-skinned to others, who speaks like an Ivy League-educated black Hawaiian raised by white middle-class Kansas–I’d see this confusion play out on the national stage amongst whites and blacks alike, the need to situate someone inside his or her ethnicity and the frustration that comes when it can’t easily be done… Are you what you appear to be? Do I trust you or not” (Obama 41)?
By simply existing, Michelle and her husband became leading examples of what black excellence can look like. They had the personality, the style, the swagger of a modern couple with the credibility to hold their own in any political or social sphere.
One shouldn’t idolize a public servant for their purpose is to serve the community, but Michelle Obama reminded me of my purpose.
She has encouraged me to optimize my skills and to choose greatness. No one has it easy. Every one deals with hardships and adversity, but the strongest continue on. The doubters and haters are background noise. She stresses, “For every door that’s been open to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others… Let’s invite one another in” (Obama 421). I can only hope to be as inclusive, uplifting and brilliant as Michelle Obama has been throughout her time in the White House and beyond.
How can she be so optimistic after witnessing the stronghold and legacy she and her husband assembled from 2008, crumbled and rejected by the likes of President Donald Trump? As they say, “Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.”
The Obamas are visionaries and Michelle has hope. So do I.