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Health And Family

Reading Michelle Obama

HEART AND MIND - Paulynn Sicam - The Philippine Star
Reading Michelle Obama
Reading Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, I realized where such cool and clear thinking, as she has shown throughout her public life, comes from.

Reading the book is also to fall in love again with Barack Obama, this time no longer as the handsome, brilliant and charismatic president of the United States, but as the very human person Michelle paints him to be. 

At the height of a bruising presidential campaign, when the opposition used black ops and black props to try and destroy her candidate, Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” This now famous quote resonated with the American people and around the world. Although her candidate lost the election, Michelle’s high-minded campaign and very apt motto remains the gold standard in repelling bullies.

Reading Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, I realized where such cool and clear thinking, as she has shown throughout her public life, comes from.  She grew up in the black community of the south side of Chicago, where opportunities for upward mobility and quality education were limited, but she managed to get to Princeton for college and to Harvard for her law degree. With spunk and true grit, and a very loving and supportive family, she landed in a high-end law firm in Chicago where she met and mentored a brilliant law student that the firm had its eyes on, a handsome young man named Barack Hussein Obama.  

Michelle was competitive even as a child, initially competing with herself learning how to play the piano, and later in school where she aimed for excellence in whatever she did.  Her book is a warm retelling of her growing-up years, which were not very different from yours and mine in terms of teenage angst, except that she didn’t allow any of this to get in the way of her aim, which was high. Not as high as being the first black First Lady of the United States of America, but that’s where it got her.

The book flows very well, from her childhood amid a warm extended family in the Southside to becoming first lady and re-defining the role from that of being a quiet and supportive wife of the most powerful man on earth, to a dynamic game-changer who influenced a generation of Americans with her focus on child health and proper nutrition, physical fitness, woman power and leadership. By her being who she is, she gave young American women, especially women of color, an example of how far they can get if they work at it. 

Excellent, of course, is her choice of a partner. The book reads well but it gains momentum when she meets Barack Obama — they obviously had a crush on each other — and how their relationship developed.  Living together and apart through good and bad habits, marriage finances, jobs, children, Barack’s electoral campaigns from local to national senator and on to the White House — twice — she paints an intimate portrait of the most popular — and most vilified because he is black — president in modern history.  It took guts and gumption for a black man to aim for the presidency of the US of A, and he won it decisively, twice. Even today, halfway into the term of his erratic, undignified and unworthy successor, the world is still pining for the excellence, leadership and humanity of Barack Obama.

And it wasn’t all his doing. Michelle doesn’t say it outright, but he couldn’t have done it without her. Theirs is one of those exceptional relationships that most couples can just dream about. When she writes about Barack as husband and partner, father, son-in-law, friend, even as a politician, she paints a picture of a human being — thoughtful, brilliant, ambitious, a real go-getter, but very grounded. His upbringing, his being both black and white, his choice of being a development worker and his search for his African roots are familiar to the world, but as I read Michelle describe these, I find myself sighing — be still my heart. 

Reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, I feel like I have made a good friend who has allowed me to get to know her intimately. She is excellent, no doubt, and her storytelling is so natural, friendly and human, I can imagine huddling with her and her women friends in Camp David where they let their hair down for a weekend of fun to unwind from the pressures of work at the White House. 

Reading Michelle’s Becoming is also to fall in love again with Barack Obama, this time no longer as the handsome, brilliant and charismatic president of the United States, but as the very human person Michelle paints him to be. 

Becoming has sold over 10 million copies and is said to be the best-selling memoir ever published.

Bravo, Michelle.

BARACK OBAMA

BECOMING

MICHELLE OBAMA

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