Michelle Obama's story is amazing. But it's hers, not _______.
The story of a young South Side girl who became Michelle Obama is amazing. But we must remember that it is her story, not everyone’s.
Certainly, when reading _______ new memoir, “Becoming,” most of us can find something that is familiar. For me, it was her story of taking piano lessons as a child on an old upright with uneven colored keys and a chipped middle C.
But the mere fact that Obama and I grew up with access to a piano sets us apart from many young people who are desperately trying to write their own stories in today’s difficult times.
Perhaps Obama’s strongest asset came simply by chance: She was raised by a loving mom and dad who saw her potential even when she doubted herself. They encouraged her to be the best at whatever she did. Success was expected of her. Church choir directors, city laborers, carpenters and retired Pullman porters were among the working-class people who lived in her midst. In that way, though lacking many of the luxuries money could bring, Obama was privileged.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a childhood like that? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every girl and boy grew up to tell an amazing story like _______?
During her recent book launch in Chicago, I listened to every word, eagerly grasping at tidbits that seemed to connect my life with hers. I related to the story about the high school counselor who tried to discourage her from applying to Yale. I, too, had a teacher who didn’t think I was good enough to be on the school’s newspaper staff.
Obama had tried to convince them that there wasn’t much distance between her childhood and theirs and that they could overcome obstacles just as she had. But the teenagers felt disconnected with the African-American woman who had grown up on the South Side and now lived in the White House. They weren’t sure that she understood how different things were for them, how much more difficult it was to be their best, as she had asked of them.
Jones, who was then 16, told Obama so. But as time went on, she told me last week, she began to see the possibilities. Now, as she is about to turn 22, Jones said that brief encounter with Obama changed her life. While things weren’t always good at home — the family has moved three times in the last three years — she used Obama’s wisdom as a road map to achieve more than she once thought she deserved.
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