Michelle Obama’s new memoir “Becoming” will give readers their most intimate look yet at the life of the former first lady. Ahead of its release, take a look back at what she’s already shared with us.
Former first lady Michelle Obama took ABC News’ Robin Roberts back to Chicago – the place where her story began – to talk about her memoir, “Becoming,” out Tuesday.
She took the “Good Morning America” anchor around Chicago’s South Side, made a surprise visit to her alma mater, Whitney Young High School, where a photo of her hangs in the dance studio and recalled the couple’s road from their house to the White House.
Here’s what we learned, in addition to Friday’s revelation that she conceived her daughters via in-vitro fertilization:
There’s a memorial to her first date with her husband
If you saw the 2016 film “Southside With You,” you are well-versed in the former first couple’s first date at an ice cream parlor.
It almost got off to a bad start when Barack arrived behind schedule. “Black man late on the first date. Hmmm.”
“He played it real smooth, leaned in for a kiss,” Obama recalled. From that point on, it was love. He was my man.”
But not everyone loves that story, apparently.
“My kids are embarrassed that there’s a plaque about their parents’ first kiss,” she told Roberts. (Just Imagine what they must think about their mom expressing lust for their dad in print.)
When the Trumps came up, Obama’s facial expressions told the story
When it came to her husband’s successor, the former first lady was more diplomatic on camera than she had been on the page, where she said she’d never forgive him for putting her family’s safety at risk by “stirring up the wingnuts and kooks” with his birtherism campaign, which questioned Obama’s American citizenship and thus, his legitimacy.
Obama declined to assess Melania Trump’s performance as first lady explaining, “One of the things you learn as a former is you don’t judge what a current is doing.”
But just as Laura Bush had done for her, Obama told her successor that if she ever needed help, she was just a phone call away.
Has the new first lady ever called her? “No, she hasn’t,” she answered with a smirk.
Obama also took a subtle dig at the current president by listing the job requirements of the presidency, nearly all of which Trump has been criticized for lacking: “Being commander-in-chief is a hard job. You need to have discipline, you need to be knowledgeable, you need to be careful with your words. But voters make those decisions and once the voters have spoken, that’s what we live with.”
Her cousin once asked her, ‘Why do you talk like a white girl?’
Though Obama didn’t yet know the term code-switching when she was 10, she pinpointed the exact moment she became aware of the practice of changing languages depending on one’s audience. It’s when he cousin asked why she spoke like a white girl.
Pantomiming being slapped across the face, she called it “one of those kinds of moments where (it’s like) ‘You’re not like us.’ And it was because of my speech.”
“When you grow up in the neighborhood, you can get your butt kicked going to school if you’re studying too hard. You grow up learning these two languages. Like, ‘How do I fit into my family and community and still excel?’ This wouldn’t be the first time my identity would be challenged. People couldn’t figure out who I was and who they thought I should be.”
Barack wasn’t the only Obama who tried marijuana
“You write about fooling around with your boyfriend,” Roberts teased, prompting Obama to ask, “Which one?”
The journalist also wanted to know why she included an admission that she’d tried smoking pot, albeit without going into detail.
“That’s what I did. That’s a part of the ‘Becoming’ story,” she said matter-of-factly. “Everyone has something they’re working through, something that they were figuring out. Why would I hide that from the next generation?”
She was ‘afraid to hope’ her husband could be president
When her husband appeared on the cover of Time with the headline, “Can Barack Obama be the next president,” his wife had a hard time even looking at it.
“I was doing what a lot of black folks do. We were afraid to hope,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that the country that oppressed you could one day be led by you.”
When they go low, we go high but we shouldn’t bottle up the pain
Throughout the campaign, “there were people who didn’t know what a black woman looked and sounded like. I knew that was going to be a challenge, that I’d have to earn my grace … People called me Barack’s baby mama. Accused me of not loving my country. Told me I was angry. That was the first time I’d really experienced someone taking my voice and balling it up and distorting it. And I was like, ‘Wait, people! This isn’t who I am.”
At the time she brushed off the criticism, but in hindsight, she said that may not have been the right move.
“I don’t think we do each other a service by pretending hurtful things don’t hurt,” she concluded. “That’s what I’ve come to. I need to own that hurt, to talk about it. I need to process it for myself so I can heal. But at the time, I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel victimized. There was no time to hurt in that role.”
She got emotional watching Princeton students of color discuss what she meant to them
Arriving at Princeton University, Obama explained, was her first time in a “predominantly white situation,” adding “I had to learn how to adjust to this world of wealth and privilege and kids that I didn’t realize had come from prep schools that had prepared them. I didn’t even know the language of that college. What’s a syllabus? I’d never heard of it.”
She got verklempt when Roberts showed her video of female Princeton students and grads of color expressing gratitude about the trail she blazed for them.
“They’re standing where I was standing,” she said, realizing the interviews were filmed in the same spot where a college-age photo of her was taken nearly 40 years ago.
“I’m glad to see (that),” Obama barely managed to get out, before teasing, “Why’d you do that, Robin?”
Obama got the last laugh against the college counselor who doubted her
“The college counselor here told me I wasn’t Princeton material,” she told students during a surprise visit to Whitney Young High School, the magnet school she attended.
“She doesn’t work here anymore,” the principal reported happily.
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