Photo Credits: Scott Olson &Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Besides being the first black First Lady, Michelle Obama is many things, classy, intelligent, poised but most of all, she’s relatable. On Tuesday the former first lady released her memoir “Becoming” and the same day launched a countrywide book tour. The book had one of the year’s biggest debuts and first day sales were upwards of 725,000 copies. Those numbers include all first day sales and pre-orders for all hardcover, audio and e-books for the U.S. and Canada.
Last night, she made her L.A. stop on the tour at the Forum in Inglewood. The conversation was hosted by actress turned activist, Tracee Ellis Ross who is as beautiful as she is hilarious. The second Mrs. Obama took the stage, Tracee said almost as if she could no longer hold it in, “I was so pulled in by the gentleness of your humanity and the juxtaposition between the ordinary and extraordinary.” A hush fell over the crowd who all showed their agreeable with their silent nods and wide eyes. I too was instantly captivated by her charm and humor and although we were thousands of people apart I felt like the conversation was just between the two of us.
See, during her time in the White House, Michelle Obama spoke out on things no first lady dared to speak on and in her book she’s continuing to give a voice to those who have been begging for someone to hear their silent cries. It turns out she is more like us than anyone could have ever imagined. When one becomes apart of the first family they become like royalty; regal, untouchable, they couldn’t possibly understand what us average people are going through. Well, Michelle is taking the glass ceiling and shattering it with every misconception we have had about her.
When she spoke about her childhood she mentioned that she romanticized characters such as Pippi Longstocking, “She lived alone, she had a monkey, she was powerful and fearless and she was a GIRL. She was the first sort of strong girl character.” She also liked Peter Pan, she didn’t identify with Wendy like most young girls though, “I liked the coolness of Peter Pan, his magic. I used to pretend to be Peter Pan—I didn’t tell anyone in the neighborhood” she joked. “I liked the idea of being the person who was saving people. I didn’t gravitate to the helpless people, I liked the characters who were in control.”
In the book she mentions how her parents helped her cultivate and own her intelligence as a young girl. In one chapter she says, “We were not just expected to be smart but to own our smartness and inhabit it with pride.” Many young black intellectuals are made to feel that they can not be smart and black as if because of stereotypes given to us mean the two are mutually exclusive. “If you’re too smart and you’re too focused on school somehow you’re not being black. You’re starting to adopt the habits of white folks. But what I realized is; that’s fear…sometimes it feels like you’re leaving your community behind. Like you’re living in two worlds.”
That moment shifted the entire energy in the room, as if the heaviness of the topic set in. Not a heaviness of a burden but a heaviness of importance, as if everyone in the room including myself realized just how important it was that this woman had a platform that she could use to speak her truth. And boy did she. She also touched on other topics in the book like her journey on becoming a mother and infertility. Infertility is a taboo topic that millions of women struggle with, but suffer in silence. “I shared it [in the book] because I didn’t know,” she says matter of factly. “I shared it because if I really wanted you to know my story and I do, I would tell you this.” At this point I was practically in tears.
— Power 106 (@Power106LA) November 16, 2018
One of the last things she said that really left me in awe, as if I could be more enamored with her, was that she had a panic attack before her book tour started. What could she possibly be worried about? She referenced a time in the White House, “We would go go parent teacher conferences and There would be swat guys on top of the roof and I would tell the kids: this is normal. That’s not for you. Don’t look up, it’s no big deal. It wasn’t a big deal, at least that’s what I told myself.” Perhaps the panic attack was the moment she felt the heaviness of importance too. “It just hit me. This WAS a big deal. So I called my brother like: ‘This is a big deal, what we did for the last 8 years is a big deal!’” Yes, Mrs. Obama it was a HUGE deal.