EBONY is honoring 100-plus Black women who have shaped our history and future. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is near the top of our list. Read the full issue, only on newsstands, now.
Michelle Obama left the White House in January. But somehow my heart can’t come to terms with what my brain has already processed. A quick peek at any social media site or news outlet proves I am far from alone. Although former President Barack Obama’s back-to-back terms in the White House have ended, groans of “FLOTUS, please come back” continue. In her role as first lady, Mrs. Obama connected with us and claimed a permanent home in our hearts.
To understand our deeply rooted connection to Michelle LaVaughn Obama, you must understand the successes of Black women despite terrible treatment. The United States is the land that we love, but it hasn’t always loved us back.
We’ve carried the dual burden of being Black and female, and have received the punishment reserved for both. Our backs have been broken by labor for which we’ve yet to reap the rewards. Our breast milk has fed the children of the masters who sold our own flesh and blood. Our femininity, beauty, morals and intelligence have been tried and found lacking. We’ve been raped, stripped of dignity and denied our womanhood. We’ve spent years being conditioned to believe that our Blackness is a burden that needs to be scrubbed away.
Despite it all, we’ve fought not to internalize the hatred. Unlike the reflection in the mirror America holds up to our face, we see ourselves differently. And Michelle Obama is the epitome of everything we’ve always known we were but were told otherwise. A catalog of her achievements includes the following: Ivy League graduate, writer, lawyer, youth advocate, wife and mother. She showed this country that a sista girl with a wide nose and full curves from a working-class neighborhood can and does epitomize beauty, grace, success and class.
“Nothing in my life’s path would have predicted that I’d be standing here as the first African-American first lady of the United States of America,” Mrs. Obama once shared with a group of high school students during a TED talk. “There is nothing in my story that would land me here. I wasn’t raised with wealth or resources or any social standing to speak of.”
Yet she still made it.
Michelle Obama’s success represents the American dream: upward mobility achieved through perseverance and hard work despite the resounding voices of naysayers. She is the realized potential of Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune and the countless other women before her who fought to make her achievements possible.
To witness the country’s embrace of—and struggle with—a brown-skinned first lady is nothing short of remarkable. And now, perhaps because of Michelle, the rest of America is finally beginning to understand what African-Americans have always known: Black women matter.
Pick it up! Pick it up! We urge you to grab your own copy of this gorgeous #BlackGirlMagic and Women’s History-celebrating issue, only on newsstands on or after March 14 or place your order online HERE.