Becoming by Michelle Obama is a great read! It challenges the reader to reflect on the mental machine that makes us who we are. Was it environment or heritage? Education or religion? Race or nationality? I believe it is all of those things rolled into on. Each contributed to the mentality shaping our consciousnesses today.
THE PICTURE OF A FIRST LADY
As I casually flipped open my outside mailbox, my eyes fastened on a brown, book-sized box, resting haphazardly on top of a stack of letters. Instantly, I knew it was the book I had ordered a few days earlier. Hastily, I made my way into the family room of my house and nervously ripped off the covering. I came face-to-face with the picture of a beautiful woman, clad in a white, off-the-shoulder dress, named Michelle Obama…First Lady Michelle Obama! I was elated! Now…the whole story of what it’s like to be the First African American First Lady of America, would be digested. The anticipation was stifling, over-powering! How would the story progress?
THE PROGRESSION OF MICHELLE OBAMA
Before delving into the “wows” and “I had no ideas,” let it be clear, this article is not an attempt to review Becoming. It’s written to share the impact reading such a history-making story had on me! Even with my very busy schedule, I managed to complete the book in a week and two days. I read every minute I could…didn’t want to put it down! The story began, expanded, developed and climaxed.
Having heard Mrs. Obama give a synopsis of her book on CSPAN, I thought I knew what to expect. Wrong! From the very first chapter, it became clear the story would be heart-warming, humble and honest. It was a “tell-it-like-it-is” story—a story that was straight-forward, compelling, unapologetic and graceful. The style was sophisticated, yet simple, instructional, but embracing, chastising, yet reassuring. It is very detailed, spelling out the where’s, how’s and why’s, with seemingly, picture-perfect memory. I was “all in.
The title Becoming suggests a work in process—a “this is where I began, these are the steps I went through, and here is where I am now.” It also forecasts a future that suggests the world is better because of “my becoming.” Michelle Robinson did not grow-up with a silver spoon in her mouth. Like many young children, she knew what it was like to desire, but not get, work hard, and sometimes achieve little, fall down, but get up, massage bruises and start again. She became “a work in progress.”
THE EVOLUTION OF A FIRST LADY
One of the essential elements to her becoming, is that she had parents who knew the value of acquiring a good education. Sound moral values—values that spelled courage, determination and resolve were a must. These produced the self that meticulously laid the foundation for a First African American First Lady. Most of us have been a “first” of something at one time or another. We understand the pressure that comes with being in such a position, but this book gave me a new sense of transformation.
TRANSFORMATION OF THOUGHT
As I read the final pages of Becoming by Michelle Obama, I knew my “self” had been transformed, renewed and re-constructed. I was no longer gripped with excitement and wonderment about external forces, but with each word, sentence, paragraph and story within a story. A sense of internal quietude, restfulness and serenity infiltrated my thought and took root. I began to see the bigger picture Mrs. Obama was painting. With each brushstroke of thought, she planted on the massive canvas of consciousness, thoughts, ideas and practices that form a portrait of America.
AMERICA: A BECOMING BY MICHELLE OBAMA
This is an America in reconstruction. An America that can use many colors to form its portrait, or use only one. Which will she choose? Will it be an America that recognizes the value of each color, culture, ethnicity, gender and economic status, or an America that clings to its past of division, partiality and inequality. What road will we take? What will we place on the eternal canvas?
BECOMING BY MICHELLE OBAMA HIGHLIGHTS DIVERSITY
Becoming by Michelle Obama highlights freedoms and values that say, “Intelligence has no color, gender, or limitation—no social or economic status. It is what we believe, have faith in, and use every ounce of being to achieve. Limitations are the ones we place on our own thinking…on our own achievements.” Like the “coat of many colors” Jacob gave his son Joseph, we can paint a picture with many colors. Colors that instill success, wisdom, tolerance, justice, lawfulness and unity.
What kind of portrait will the final results be? It depends on the materials we choose…
Written by Dr. Mamie Smith
The human mind is like a canvas, waiting to soak-up what the world has to offer.