Columns, Opinion

Miss Leading: “When they go low, we go high”

I remember the evening Barack Obama got elected president. I came back from a family outing to Jerome’s Steak and Seafood and sat in my living room as we all heard the news that our country had elected the first African-American president in its history.

It never gets tiring for me to talk about the best American president (in my opinion) and his amazing family. President Obama helped to positively shape the lives of millions of Americans, but today is not about him. On Nov. 13, 2018, former first lady Michelle Obama released her memoir “Becoming” and spoke about a reflection of her world, life and experiences.

Since I was younger, there has always been special women I look up to. First and foremost, my mom, followed by incredible women like Malala Yousafzai (partially because we share a birthday and partially because she’s bad–s) and Michelle Obama.

During her career, Michelle Obama has become an advocate for women and girls across the United States and the globe, enforced the importance of health and fitness and has been graceful in every walk of life, whether it was endlessly supporting her husband or raising her two children in the limelight.

“Becoming” is incredible because it shows that Michelle Obama is still able to occupy a space for herself beyond just her career and politics to empower people everywhere. According to Krissah Thompson of The Washington Post, this memoir is unlike most others because Obama is willing to open up (much more than any previous first lady) and because she is the first of anyone in this country to be able to tell her story as the first African-American woman to live in the White House with her husband. The book also delves into her disdain for Trump, a man who threatened the life of her family and the lives of many others around the country because of his xenophobic and controversial ideas.

But although Obama writes about how Trump’s presidency has threatened her family by perpetuating the conspiracy that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, the book is less about Obama’s relationship to politics and more about her personal journey. Obama isn’t one to spend time focusing on rumors that are unproductive to her work as an advocate, though this experience shaped her early in her political career.

To be growing up in a time when one of the most influential women happens to be a woman of color is honestly beyond me, and it makes me hopeful for the future. Even though we currently have a president who doesn’t, apparently, care about the lives of literally anyone except himself, his family and people who look like him, I think it’s great that there are still clouds with a silver lining.

The novel is split into three sections: “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us” and “Becoming More.” Each of the three sections includes stories from Obama’s life, even going into details about how and where she grew up, deciding to do in vitro fertilization for both of her daughters after dealing with a miscarriage, and dealing with what it has been like to be in a position of power but still judged for what she looks like. At a time like this where nearly all women’s actions are judged for what they look like or how they act in certain situations, it’s reassuring to see that even the most successful and well-known women also go through similar experiences.

Upon reading numerous reviews and takeaways about the book, Michelle Obama has not only gone through the scrutiny of the public as a Black woman, but she has also been supportive of her husband through some of America’s most harrowing moments, like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

As Michelle has said a number of times in the last decade, “When they go low, we go high.”

I’m still young, and according to Obama, I’m still in my “Becoming Me” phase. Because of this, it is with excitement that I look into the future — mostly ready, slightly nervous, to start my life. When I get my hands on a copy of this book, I feel like I will be liberated to step out of my comfort zone to reach my goals. And to me, that’s inspiring.

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