Sunday, June 30, 2019

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is a well deserved celebrity in her own right.  I remember seeing her for the first time on a tv interview and and being impressed with her thoughtful answers.  It is disturbing that so many ignorant people have found trivial things to criticize with a racist undertone.

She describes her upbringing in Chicago with parents determined to steer her towards a better future.  Her parents were family oriented each with a network of aunts, uncles and cousins.  Her father worked for the city and despite having MS never missed a shift in 26 years.  Her mother made the conscious decision to stay at home, but was active with the PTA.  Knowing her parents had little money Michelle deliberately didn't tell them about a school trip to France, but they found out and made the necessary sacrifices so she could go.

At one gathering at about the age of 10 she was accused  of "talking like a white."  She was conscious that she and her brother Craig spoke differently than many of their cousins.  At home there was encouragement to use proper diction and refer to dictionaries and encyclopedias.  As an adult there was an awareness that language and race confused many people.

Qualifying for a magnet school opened up doors.  Early bus rides. helped reinforce discipline  Befriended daughter of Jesse Jackson who later sang at her wedding.

Her brother Craig won an athletic scholarship to Princeton and later gave up a corporate career to coach university basketball.  She wanted to go to university on the east coast and Princeton seemed logical and she was accepted.  Later she studied law at Harvard.

She met Obama through work and although he was older he was under her at the law firm.  She asked her brother to evaluate Obama, but as both loved basketball this test was easily passed.  At this time she was living with her parents as she was heavily in debt.  After her marriage they both lived with her parents.

After marriage Barrack was increasingly getting involved in politics which created stress in the family as he was away from home.  She worked and was able to get meaningful tasks making good money while her mother took care of the children.

Several decisions meant risks and increasing responsibilities for her husband.  She felt he could do good things, but separations led to arguments.  At one point they went to counseling which helped.  The big decision was to run for president where he would be disadvantaged by the entrenchment of Hilary Clinton.  At the beginning Clinton was polling very good with blacks, but once Barrack proved he could be a winner after Iowa the blacks supported him and helped carry him to White House.

Once in the White House, ironically Barrack was able to spend more time with his family.  Michelle recounts some of the politics of the 8 years, but for her, keeping her two daughters living as normal as possible was her main focus.  She did get involved with a few First Lady projects and joined up with Jill Biden to help support veterans.  The event that effected her the most was the Newtown School massacre.

Towards the end of the book she looked forward to getting out of the limelight.  I have heard a few pundits suggest she should run for president (and I would agree), but to squelch such efforts she very strongly stated she was not interested at all.  One of my hopes would be for Barrack to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Reading her book one gets an insight into what a politician's wife and a First Lady has to put up with.  There are not many inside secrets about policies, although some little bits about living in the White House and traveling with the President or on any trips related to her position of First Lady.  When Donald Trump promulgated the birther movement Michelle resented his endangering her family.  She set a good standard for her position which many appreciate, but there are still many that resent  a black family in the White House.  If they were open minded enough to read this book their outlook likely would change (maybe).

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