And the Best Spoken Word Album | 2020 GRAMMYs goes to…
A toast to Michelle Obama for her win. We’re adding this celebration to the collage of all the iconic women who are allowing other women and girls of colour to see themselves in places they couldn’t have otherwise imagined.
Since the award is for the audiobook version of her memoir Becoming, I just had to write a review of the book.
In Becoming, the former first lady of the United States takes us through a personal journey – from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago, all the way to the walls of the White House. In between these two points is a young girl in Princeton who experiences what it’s like to be the only black face in a room, there’s the diligent student in Harvard, a high-powered lawyer, a young woman who falls in love, a wife and a mother. The shifting in all these stages make this an aptly titled book where Michelle reveals so much about her life, doing it so with candour and much appreciated humour.
Michelle grew up in a nuclear family of four – her, her parents and brother. We later see how she was raised, the roles her parents played, their approach to life and how she and her brother were treated, shape the person she becomes. Her life as a student shows us a young woman who has a clear idea of who and what she wants to be, an overachiever and “box-checker” who later learns that she has to adjust to life’s circumstances.
When it comes to her love story with former president Barack Obama, and her role as a wife and a mother to her daughters, it’s refreshing to read her honest admission to moments of fear, anxiety, self-doubt and a search for balance between work, family life, Barack’s political career and self.
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
― Michelle Obama, Becoming
Michelle admits to never being a fan of politics and was not the kind of spouse who immediately ran with her husband’s decision to run for president. As an achieved, successful and strong woman, she had to take on a role that was centred on the career of her spouse. She is also a black woman, which carries more weight than it is a simple description of her ethnicity. She takes us behind the scenes of what it’s like to stare at the ugly face of politics, to have her and her family under public scrutiny and being treated or seen as a public accessory. However, she neither whines nor begs for pity, but rather shows us how she navigated her way through these challenges.
As much of a celebrity as she is, and as prominent and iconic as she is, in Becoming we get to sit down with a normal woman who tells us her story. Simple.
My friend read, loved and wouldn’t shut up about this book until I read it. I also cannot shut up about it and I recommend it for all women, more especially women who have gone through or are going through the journey of BECOMING. Becoming yourself, becoming whatever role it is you’re taking up or have just taken up, becoming with the love of your life, or becoming a mother.
Becoming offers a wealth of inspiration as well as a delightful insight into the life of one of the most admirable figures in the world.