As our country prepares for the Obama family to leave the White House, I am reminded of some of my most special memories from their time in office. The first is my brief encounter with Michelle Obama in 2008 and the other was being on the phone with my mother during President Obama’s first inauguration. My mother and father told me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I was a child, but my mother admitted to me that she never thought that she would ever see a president of our country who was not a white man. I agreed with her and I honestly think that most of America would have agreed with that statement at that time in our country. I also think that some people hung on to that disbelief and fought the reality of that truth for the entire eight years he was in office. Unfortunately, because of this many folks missed the opportunities to support a first family who did not have a scandal created by them while they served us respectfully around the globe. So many Americans missed the opportunities to applaud Michelle Obama for showing women that it was alright not to be the stereotypical size of the doctored photos of women in the magazines and that it’s alright to eat barbecue. We saw the Obama family continue to have family time which we say we value as Americans. We saw him be affectionate toward his wife and laud her for her Ivy league smarts. We watched a family bring grandma to the White House to help keep a support system around the girls who grew up right before our eyes.
I used to think I wanted to be a politician, but after watching Americans (some of whom I called close friends) be so hateful and abusive toward the Obama’s made me thankful that God didn’t call me to that type of service. I have never forgotten a friend referring to Michelle Obama as “that woman” when I mentioned that I was going to hear her speak during the primary campaign in 2008. I couldn’t understand why my friend had so much animosity in her comment when the Obama’s were pretty new on the scene and stood for everything we say we love in America. They came up without riches and fame. They studied and earned their places in the Ivy League schools we hold in high esteem. They kept cool tempers even in the face of hate, rudeness, rejection, and resistance. They kept speaking about their desire to help ALL Americans have health care, including preventive health care. They worked to end the food deserts in our communities by working with local drug stores to add fresh fruits and healthy food options where none existed. Michelle Obama recognized the effects of electronics on our children and worked to get them moving and eating healthy to combat childhood obesity and the diseases that came with that unhealthy state of being. They opened the White House to average Americans so that we could all believe that the White House belonged to us and people who looked and lived like us. There are all sorts of things that we could argue President Obama did not accomplish, but he has said himself that he didn’t accomplish all that he hoped he would get done. Please tell me which of us gets everything we think we will get done in a day for our own house let alone for our country. I struggle to figure out why there has been such harsh judgment on this man and his family for being and living the “American dream.”
When I see the construction industry actually making plans to construct stuff, I remember when President Obama took office that not too many houses or buildings were under construction. I remember the car industry was failing. I remember that COBRA was the only hope for those out of work and not able to pay the high rates for insurance because they were struggling to pay for rent and food. I remember that our country was in a couple of wars and a man who posed a significant terrorist threat to us had not been found by the prior administration. I wish those who opposed him would just show some ability to say they found one thing to be grateful about during his presidency. A girl can wish.
Regardless of what other folks say or think I am thankful that Michelle Obama was our first lady. I am thankful that she took less than a minute of her time to say hello to me, give me a hug, and speak words of encouragement to my soul at a time when I needed uplifting. She is a tall woman in stature and in spirit. I am excited to see what the rest of her journey holds in store for her and her family. In honor of her service to our country, I am reposting a blog written about my encounter with her in 2008. May God’s favor continue to rest upon Michelle Obama and her family.