Simply put, I’m inspired, she inspires me. I consider myself most fortunate to be an adult at the time of this First Lady. When I was younger I felt similar about Hilary Rodham Clinton. Back then I wanted to be a lawyer, and she made law look glamorous. In the fifth grade when Bill Clinton was running for the Presidency, I saw a picture of their kitchen table inside their home in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a mess, like mine. I mean cookies, chips, and bread all over the place. I loved it, and found it to be very comforting.
When the Clinton’s ran for office, there was a lot of excitement around the possibility of a Clinton and Gore administration. My elementary school teachers had Clinton/ Gore bumper stickers on their cars. We all knew that something big was happening. Actually, it’s so big that it’s not even finished.
In that regard, we experienced the same with the Obama campaign. The Obama’s were young, fresh, and new. All of us were curious about this couple, especially the woman who would become the first African American First Lady of the United States of America. When they pursued his first term in office, her interviews portrayed a woman that was opinionated, confident about her ideals on parenting, and very outspoken. So much to the extent that she told a journalist that if Barak didn’t win, they weren’t running a second time and putting their family through it again. She seemed indifferent to being liked, never mind a favorite, but never the less she became one. Like a prize winning fighter, she became a woman that fed off the remarks from her biggest critics. Right before our eyes she’s emerged as a style icon, a health and fitness enthusiast, a supporter of equal rights, and a remarkable example of a loving wife and mother. Proving that adversity either makes or breaks you.
For almost 8 years in this role she hasn’t disappointed us. She’s been controversial, beautiful, bold, and impactful. Mrs. Obama has been the most captivating First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy, and she’s managed to do it without pretension and a wealthy family dynasty behind her. She even made shopping from accessible and budget friendly retail stores chic.
If Mrs. Obama wanted, she could come up with many excuses of why she shouldn’t use her position for influence, and instead play it safe. Many people would be satisfied with the fact that she is breaking down color barriers by being a person of color in the White House, but gratefully she hasn’t chosen this route. She’s decided to be responsible and share her struggles with racism in this country, because her voice is one that can’t be ignored, or thought of as complaining solely because she wants a hand out. Obviously, she hasn’t needed anything from anyone in quite some time.
Many are wondering why she as of recent has decided to even more so express her views on race in America, and share her personal struggles and pain about being an African American in this country. In my opinion, this is the best time for her to share. With the protest in Baltimore, and numerous instances of police brutality, it is imperative for us to hear how she overcame systems that were not designed to enable her success, yet she still became successful. More than ever before we need to have discussions about these issues so we know that our feelings of exclusion and not being valued are not only legitimate, but common. When we hear the First Lady of the United States say “me too” about these “taboo” topics, we are affirmed that our bad experiences do not have to mean a bad future or ending. In fact, they can become a story to share about what we encountered on our way to achievement, not what held us back.
I am inclined to say if more people did what she is doing, it would have a significant effect in this country, and for all people. Less of us wouldn’t expect accomplishing great things to be easy, and because of that awareness, when they aren’t we wouldn’t give up so easily. Mrs. Obama reminds me that all of us are responsible for lifting each other up. Furthermore, that we all need to be more compassionate about the loads each of us carry. Just imagine what kind of America it would be.
Please watch the link below of Michelle Obama giving the commencement speech at Tuskegee University.
Rachel Bryant Lundy