Becoming, A Great Read…
by Andra Taylor
Grateful that I was asked by my best friend to attend the book tour for Michelle Obama’s newly published book, “Becoming”, I jumped at the opportunity to see what the hype was about. Much to my amazement, there were packed lines surrounding the entire Capital One arena in Washington, DC that night. The main event was scheduled to start at 8pm, but it was obvious by the humongous lines outside, this would definitely not be the starting time.
After waiting patiently in line in the sea of mostly women I couldn’t help but to be intrigued and curious as to how this would all play out. After about 20 minutes, I was finally inside of the arena and making my way to my seat on the 2nd level, diagonal from the stage where the interview with Valerie Jarrett would be sitting to discuss Michelle Obama’s newly published book.
A bit longer, after most of the people made their way into the packed arena, the show commenced with Mrs. Obama’s coming on stage to the tune of a beyonce song. How exciting and fitting for a First Lady that has carried a hip swag throughout her time in the public spotlight.
Once the roaring crowd finally settled down, the interview ensued with Mrs. Obama embodying as much grace and poise that I was familiar with up until this point. Michelle’s personality conveyed warmth, compassion, wit, humor and sincerity. She spoke naturally with grace and humility as she opened up about the personal experience of her life, sharing unique details that resonated deeply within my soul.
Here sat a black women, who broke so many stereotypes, yet identified with so many others at the same time. Someone who grew up on the southside of Chicago, a couple hours east to where I grew up and gained the foundation for my own life. A person of focus, determination and a will to succeed despite the major obstacles and challenges that lay wait throughout her journey. One who exudes the reality of hope and the unlimited possibilities one can aspire to, given the proper support and willpower to persevere.
As she continued to share and converse with Valerie in front of an audience that numbered in the tens of thousands, I was drawn in ever more to her calm steady presence as videos and pictures of her life played on the backdrop of the stage and monitors throughout the stadium.
Michelle explained her journey from her child rearing years to present and the obstacles, changes and sacrifices made to gain the upward trajectory that eventually landed her in the White House as First Lady.
Upon closing, her husband, President Barack Obama pleasantly surprised the audience by gracing the stage with her (Silently, I had hoped this would happen given that they now lived in the Washington, DC area and it would be a very convenient thing to do).
The crowd went wild as Mr. Obama walked on stage as smooth and with as much poise as he always displayed during his presidency. Upon joining Michelle on stage and offering his side of the stories she told throughout the night, he embraced her with genuine love and affection.
At this point, my year was made. To see and experience the Obama’s in person had been on my bucket list for several years up until this point and finally the moment had arrived. Naturally, this left me on cloud nine and being that I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to pick up a copy of the book nor read it, I made that my next priority.
Much to my satisfaction as soon as I began reading the book, it was hard to put down. Michelle started the book off by sharing her story of being from humble beginnings as a little girl being raised under a modest roof of a working class family in an era soon to be transformed in the preceding years. An era that seemed like a close reflection of my family, heritage and lineage.
It was refreshing to gain the insight through Michelle’s lens and to discover the similarities therein. How she was determined and focused to be an excellent student since grade school and aspired to become someone of purpose and great success. That, despite the disadvantages of race, inequality and limited resources one is still able to gain great success and achievement.
Then to discover that later in life, after having achieved the prowess that she longed for since her younger years, she still arrived at a place of unfulfillment. Signifying a truth often overlooked in my opinion. A truth that uncovers the sometimes souring truth that a good paying job, nice car and home does not necessarily equate to inner peace and lasting joy. A reality that I believe far too many people struggle with silently based out of a perceived necessity to survive.
Additionally, I enjoyed how Mrs. Obama spoke of how she was taken back when she first met Barack Obama. How later that was transformed into an ever-greater relationship and unbreakable bond, despite the inevitable challenge of having distance between them at the time.
Chapter after chapter I was reminded about the challenges we all face no matter what our lot is in life and that no one is exempt from them, especially Michelle Obama. I appreciated her expressed love for children, military families and the betterment of the United States and world abroad. Never wanting to ascend to the highest office in the world with her husband, Michelle still did so with care, dignity and grace. Adaptable, centered and focused on what mattered most Michelle always put family as the top priority.
In closing, upon finishing reading the book I am even more in awe and inspired by the woman Michelle Obama has become. I relate well with her tenacity and humility while becoming who she is today. Although she explicitly expresses in the book that she has absolutely no desire to run for office, I think she would be the ideal candidate for the first female President of the United States of America.
Andra C Taylor Jr | TaylorMade Solutions