Commentary on Part Three of Michelle Obama’s Becoming
I have reached the end of this amazing book, and I have to say, I have never read a book this quickly in my life. This book has left me with many emotions (I have teared up many times on the train, especially looking through the pictures in the middle of the book), but more importantly it has left me inspired. I still cannot believe sometimes that we were fortunate enough to experience a woman with so much grace, class, intelligence and rawness. If you have not gotten your copy of the book yet, I still highly recommend it now that I have come to the end. I offer you a final set of thoughts on the third and final section of the book Becoming More.
“There’s an age-old maxim in the black community: You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far. As the first African-American family in the White House, we were being viewed as representatives of our race. Any error or lapse in judgment, we knew, would be magnified, read as something more than what it was”.
A representative for my race- How many people of color have been asked to be “a representative for their race” because there are many spaces where only one or few of us occupy at a time. I have sat in many classes where a White student or professor will point to me and say “speak for Black people” or “what do you think” in reference to a general statement about Black people as a whole. I think it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us whether you are a college student or the First Family of the United States. Why can’t we just represent ourselves, instead of having to speak for a large group of people who have their own individual experiences.
“I hope Obama fails…..We want Barack to be a one term president”.
It still stings- Reading Michelle Obama’s words reflecting over the hurtful things that people said about her, him and their family during the presidency still stings today. This is why they are such an admirable family because even though people wanted them to fail, they rose above it all and represented our country in the best way they knew how. We know that people were saying these things because they were Black, but it serves as a reminder that racism is still alive and well in this country, and a Black president will not save us. We have work to do.
“It required time, thought, and money-more money than I’d spent on clothing ever before…I sighed sometimes, watching Barack pull the same dark suit out of his closet and head off to work without even needing a comb”.
Body image- There are many references throughout the book of the unique experiences that First Lady Obama endured because she was a woman, and this one is a good example. She spent so much of her OWN money on her image, because she knew that people were watching her heavily and judged everything from her hair to her shoe choice. However, her husband did not have to worry about his image as much and I think that is important to point out. There are still many double standards based on gender, and it is especially harder for women to maintain their image sometimes because of outside pressures.
“The important parts of my story, I was realizing, lay less in the surface value of my accomplishments and more in what undergirded them-the many small ways I’d been buttressed over the years, and the people who’d helped build my confidence over time”.
It takes a village- I keep saying this, but it is true, it just is. I am with her on this statement that I have gotten to where I am by one, the grace of God, and two, the people who have paved the way and created opportunities for me. Part of all of our stories are the people who take a chance on us, and I hope that we set ourselves up to be worth taking a chance on.
“So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be American-that if our skin is dark or our hips are wide…then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently”.
Dare to be different- I live by this statement, truly. I think that we should all dare to be different and not give in to the pressures to be like everyone else or do what the crowd is doing. Each of us has our own destiny, and we should not let society dictate our worth, it has to come from within.
“It’s all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done”.
Becoming- I think this hits home and was a great way to sum up the book. We are all on a journey and each part of our journey is steps along a path. I think her message is to never give up and never stop trying to reach higher, there are always things to do to be better. Humility is the key.
I hope you have enjoyed my three part series, as I thought it was necessary for a book as monumental as this. Comment on my blog and let me know what you thought about the book!