I’ve never been particularly interested in the Obama’s, no hate but just not a topic I focussed on at the time too much. Barack Obama was the coolest president of all time, but other than the media that found its way into my stream, I didn’t give it more research.
I was, however, interested to read Michelle Obama’s Becoming to learn more about them as people and, let’s be honest, because Oprah recommended it!
What I learnt is just how long and hard both the Obama’s have worked preceding their presidential residency. Their intentions to serve and develop their communities, their perspective on political values and social development, as well as practical experiences of the White House. I enjoyed learning a bit more about Barack as a person and I’m glad I read it before the Netflix documentary – which I watched this weekend.
Being more familiar with the story as I had read the book, there were still 3 powerful takeaways from the documentary for me. Did any of these resonate with you as well?
Feeling Invisible (Around 22:40)
Michelle Obama notes, “I never felt invisible.” While her parents demanded manners and that she and her brother were polite, she always felt “seen”.
This is definitely something I’ve struggled with and as Mr John has noted before, “everyone in your family is star, some stars just shine brighter than others”. Meaning, we don’t all get the air time we deserve within our family unit.
This has left me feeling like an underdog, driving my empathy for others, helping others feel valued in a hope to feel more valued. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, not necessarily a good thing, but it is frustrating when you don’t always feel your family is interested in your experience of the world. It’s a bit of an “agree with them for the sake of getting on” type situation when you actually have your own ideas backstage.
She notes, “visibility starts within…we can’t wait for the world to feel equal”. This is what I did with my social life during my twenties. I found amazing friends who WANTED to share the world with me, WANTED to hear my thoughts and were interested in my experience of the world.
I think I still do that, hence potato nights, etc. As I say, it’s not all good, it’s not all bad.
You Belong There (Around 27:30)
Michelle Obama was noting how she’d been in some of the top board rooms, palaces, castles and classrooms in the world and a LOT of the people who are there aren’t there because they were smarter than her.
She mentioned different types of affirmative action like the legacy placement, when children of ivy league students get into the university over more talented individuals, the college athlete who gets in because of their sporting talent, etc. However, when poor kids get a placement, all of a sudden it’s affirmative action. As is, universities having a varied student class is diversity until poor kids are involved and then it’s affirmative action.
She says she’s been to the top and there are a lot of people who don’t even know how they got there so don’t give up because if you’ve got the smarts then you do belong there.
The Truth in Adult Bullying (Around 42:20)
A discussion was in place about Michelle being used to make speeches on behalf of her husband during the election time. She was getting a tremendous amount of bad press because she was seen as “fair game” on the campaign trail.
A lot of negative things and bullying went down and because she was in the political field she was required to be stoic, however, it did hurt. It wasn’t always ok for people to write and broadcast whatever they wanted about her.
And if she said it hurt it would shift the conversation because the perpetrators love to fall back on the topics and say, “oh I was only joking” which gets them off the hook. When, in reality, those bullish tactics can have a long lasting effect on someone’s soul.
I feel like this goes back to me calling bullshit on Elenor Roosevelt saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I don’t agree with that because bullying hurts! It’s psychological abuse that can’t simply be handed with, “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”.
So while I agree you not not give more power to a negative situation than it requires, people also need to take responsibility for the energy they bring into a room or situation.
Find Becoming on Netflix now and let me know what you think. If you have some powerful take aways, please leave a comment below or on social media. If you feel the same way that I do, even better…let me know! Meg x