Walking the First Lady Tightrope


“Becoming” by Michelle Obama is an extremely influential memoir that gives insight into her life of strength, weakness, and determination. https://www.gettingsmart.com/2019/04/the-educational-implications-of-michelle-obamas-becoming/

Aizah Kamal, Reviews Writer

Michelle Obama, the former first lady, recently published her memoir called “Becoming.” It is a heart-wrenching novel that describes all of her life experiences ranging from learning the power of a Buick to becoming a successful woman. “Becoming” was a very powerful publication that has allowed millions of people across the globe, especially women, to connect with Michelle Obama personally.

When I first read it, I brushed over it, but later I realized its importance and the effect it has on many women in today’s society. The society we live in is very patriarchal and can be very toxic; reading this memoir has empowered me to articulate my opinions and share them with the world as did Michelle Obama.

“I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.” This is the very first sentence of the book, which is amazing because it gives so much insight into the way she grew up. Michelle Obama began high school at a magnet school in Chicago called Whitney Young High School. Magnet schools are very difficult schools to get into they are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. “Magnet” refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities as school zones that feed into certain schools. Generally, their acceptance rates are very low, so this was just the beginning of all of Obama’s success. The majority of students that attend magnet schools end up going to Ivy League universities. While growing up, Obama faced many occurrences of racism and sexism, which greatly shaped her personality. Through hard work and pure grit she graduated from Princeton with a Bachelor of Arts. While at Princeton, she was involved with the Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center), an academic and cultural group that supports minority students. Following her undergraduate studies, she became a successful lawyer, earning her Juris Doctor (JD) from Harvard.

“Becoming” also highlights the love story of Barack Obama and Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, an endearing and memorable tale that moved me. Through all of the pain she has faced, from the demonization by news channels while her husband was running for president to the difficult times she has faced in her marriage, she still smiles and puts out a strong appearance.

Another major influence in Obama’s life was her race. As she was growing up, having more melanin in her skin predetermined the way others treated her. She refers to this concept of having a preconceived notion as the ‘American Gaze.’ “It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know—a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate-Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.”

Now, you may be wondering: is this book for you? If you are interested in the story of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, this book is for you. If you are interested in a little love story and the progression of women in society through hard work and education, this book is definitely for you. If you choose to read this book in the near future, I truly hope you enjoy the ride that Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama takes you on. I enjoyed the memorable journey that Obama took me on through the course of her teenage years and on to her adult life as a lawyer and as first lady.