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Est. April 5, 2002
 
           
November 29, 2018 - Issue 766




An Evening with Michelle


"Michelle conveyed a universal message of hope.
However, her message of self - empowerment to
women - young and old - spoke a truth across
generations, centering it as the theme for the evening."




First Lady Michelle Obama swept into Beantown Saturday as part of the national book tour promoting her memoir “Becoming” that was held at the TD Garden. The evening before the event, my spouse and I were gifted front row seats.

OMG! the event was simply magical. And, the audience was wildly excited.

Michelle Norris, a former NPR host, interviewed Michelle Obama. The two Michelles had a fabulous time lollygagging and laughing, making us all privy to their intimate conversation.

Michelle conveyed a universal message of hope. However, her message of self - empowerment to women - young and old - spoke a truth across generations, centering it as the theme for the evening. Walking into T.D. Garden mothers had daughters in tow and both carrying “Becoming.”

Michelle Obama’s concept of “swerve” is connected to one of the many messages in her book. The idea grabbed my attention, not only in the delightfully relatable and meaningful way she conveyed the concept, but it also caught my attention in ways she shared examples from her life.

Swerve,” is about embracing flexibility. “Swerve” is the ability not to be tethered to a perceived and rigid trajectory of your life, but rather it is about being open to life’s journey, and at times merely living in the question about what to do in your life. (And, do I know about the latter!)

You're not supposed to know at 20” what you’ll be for the rest of your life Michelle told the audience. Michelle stated that we'll have many lives and chapters in our lifetime because we’re always discovering, evolving, and journeying into “becoming.”

For example, Michelle shared with the audience that in her late teens and 20s she had mapped out a straight and perceived unerring path for her life - college, law school, job….. - to achieve happiness and success. She disclosed, however, to the audience she abhorred being a lawyer albeit it was one of the many check boxes on her achievement list, all the while quite miserable.

Her candidness on the topic has inspired others.

"Being that Mrs. Obama’s path was not straight, it’s just been inspiring to know that my path may not be straight either but I will be successful, “Alana Underwood, a senior at Berkley School of Music told the Boston Globe. Underwood was one of the twenty young sisters chosen as part of the Black Girls Rock program to visit with the First Lady.

The book as in her promotional tour takes the audience into the interior of her life- from a happy working-class childhood growing up in a multicultural community on the South Side of Chicago, through her ivy league education, a plum job at a corporate law firm and to the White House. The book like the tour dispenses advice and inspirational self-help.

Michelle’s stop at the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester was to inspire a future generation of young leaders often not thought as such.

We were reading your book as if you wrote these stories about us,” a woman told her.

Also, the book, as well as the tour, reintroduces Michelle. Several biographies have been written about Michelle Obama, all by white men and women authors, except for “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America” and “Becoming.” Their depictions of Michelle, while not intended to be damaging, are, nonetheless, stereotypes.

Deceased Caribbean American feminist lesbian once stated: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

During the beginning years of Michelle’s tenure in the White House as well she time on the campaign trail she was typecast as an “angry black woman,” a racial trope for any sister who speaks truth to power.

For example, during the campaign trail Michelle, candid and excited about the enthusiasm sweeping the country about Barack’s run for the presidency, was assailed by Republicans as unpatriotic and angry. In what once seemed inconceivable - a black president the United States - Michelle told a crowd before the Wisconsin primary that “For the first time in my adult lifetime I’m really proud of my country.”

In reflecting on how her image was misconstrued, at best, or, intentionally maligned, at worse, Michelle told the Post, “I was female, Black and strong, which to certain people . . . translated only to ‘angry.’ It was another damaging clich´┐Ż, one that’s been forever used to sweep minority women to the perimeter of every room.”

The book, as well as the tour, reintroduces Michelle to us as a private citizen. She wrote the book to start a conversation with America about empowerment and healing.

While Michelle’s tour will not reach everyone she hopes the message in her book will, resonating with some unlikely people. For example, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney who stated his boss repeatedly used racist and divisive language, said he hopes Michelle’s book will help unify the country.

I think it has the potential to do so.


BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio and a weekly Friday segment “The Take” on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in cities across the country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also she writes a  column in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and Cambridge Chronicle. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey before coming to Harvard Divinity School to do her doctorate. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, THE GOOD BOOK. She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s  coming out story is  profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America" and in "Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America. Her website is irenemonroe.com.  Contact the Rev. Monroe and BC. 
 



 
 

 

 

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