150+ Michelle Obama Quotes Will Make You Respect Her

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Michelle Obama quotes will make you respect her. There are days when you need to read a few quotes to really understand the meaning of life. There are quotes that are spoken by many famous people from various backgrounds and professions and these will surely help you in many ways. There are so many Michelle Obama quotes that can help you when you are tired of being in the same old rut, and all you need is a little push, a little inspiration and these quotes will give you just that. The internet is full of Michelle Obama quotes that will make you look at life through new eyes.

Michelle LaVaughn Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer, university administrator and writer, who was First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, and was the first African-American first lady.

Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. In her early legal career, she worked at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack Obama. She subsequently worked in non-profits and as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and the Vice President for Community and External Affairs of the University of Chicago Medical Center. Michelle married Barack in 1992 and they have two daughters.

Obama campaigned for her husband’s presidential bid throughout 2007 and 2008, delivering a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She returned to speak for him at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. During the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, she delivered a speech in support of the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady.

As First Lady, Obama served as a role model for women, and worked as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating. She supported American designers and was considered a fashion icon.[1][2]

Many personalities across the world have spoken words of wisdom and these have become household quotes in schools and homes. Michelle Obama quotes have helped many across the world who have been looking for inspiration. Michelle Obama has surprised many across the world because of his high level of intellect and method of thinking.

Michelle Obama has really been through a lot of hard situations in life and so, these quotes crop up from real life experiences. We have dug up these Michelle Obama quotes from the depths of the internet and brought together the best of these sayings in a single article. This post is probably the biggest database of Michelle Obama Sayings in a single place. These famous Michelle Obama quotes have the power to change your life by giving a novel outlook about the way you observe different aspects of your life. Hence, these popular Michelle Obama quotes should be read with caution and proper understanding of the context. Here are tons of Michelle Obama quotes that will open a treasure chest of wisdom and experiences.

“failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result.”

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“just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who think diffenrently…”

“Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt.”

“The same sun comes up, but looking slightly different from what you know.”

“There are truths we face and truths we ignore.”

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“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

“He’s always asking: ‘Is that new? I haven’t seen that before.’ It’s like, Why don’t you mind your own business? Solve world hunger. Get out of my closet.”

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”

“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

“We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

“Everyone on Earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses… swapped back and forth and over again.”

“It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.”

“Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities—in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength. Some of the cuts are so small they’re barely visible. Others are huge and gaping, leaving scars that never heal. Either way, they accumulate. We carry them everywhere, to and from school and work, at home while raising our children, at our places of worship, anytime we try to advance.”

“Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.”

“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.”

“When they go low, we go high.”

“Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not
always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once
but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have
because history has shown us that courage can be contagious
and hope can take on a life of its own.”

“Since childhood, I’d believed it was important to speak out against bullies while also not stooping to their level. And to be clear, we were now up against a bully, a man who among other things demeaned minorities and expressed contempt for prisoners of war, challenging the dignity of our country with practically his every utterance. I wanted Americans to understand that words matter—that the hateful language they heard coming from their TVs did not reflect the true spirit of our country and that we could vote against it. It was dignity I wanted to make an appeal for—the idea that as a nation we might hold on to the core thing that had sustained my family, going back generations. Dignity had always gotten us through. It was a choice, and not always the easy one, but the people I respected most in life made it again and again, every single day. There was a motto Barack and I tried to live by, and I offered it that night from the stage: When they go low, we go high.”
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“His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.”

“At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.”

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“Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”

“People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.”

“I have had to learn that my voice has value. And if I don’t use it, what’s the point of being in the room?”

“Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed. Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”

“I was deeply, delightfully in love with a guy whose forceful intellect and ambition could possibly end up swallowing mine.”

“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path—the my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly.”

“Here’s a memory, which like most memories is imperfect and subjective—collected long ago like a beach pebble and slipped into the pocket of my mind.”

“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values, like you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do. That you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.”

“Years later, after I’d met and married my husband—a man who is light-skinned to some and dark-skinned to others, who speaks like an Ivy League–educated black Hawaiian raised by white middle-class Kansans—I’d see this confusion play out on the national stage among whites and blacks alike, the need to situate someone inside his or her ethnicity and the frustration that comes when it can’t easily be done. America would bring to Barack Obama the same questions my cousin was unconsciously putting to me that day on the stoop: Are you what you appear to be?”

“It’s a sensation I’ve come to love as I’ve traveled more, the way a new place signals itself instantly and without pretense. The air has a different weight from what you’re used to; it carries smells you can’t quite identify, a faint whiff of wood smoke or diesel fuel, maybe, or the sweetness of something blooming in the trees. The same sun comes up, but looking slightly different from what you know.”

“The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

“Life was teaching me that progress and change happen slowly. Not in two years, four years, or even a lifetime. We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.”

“But my first months at Whitney Young gave me a glimpse of something that had previously been invisible—the apparatus of privilege and connection, what seemed like a network of half-hidden ladders and guide ropes that lay suspended overhead, ready to connect some but not all of us to the sky.”

“Just as I never wondered what it was like for my mother to be a full-time, at-home mother, I never wondered then what it meant to be married. I took my parents’ union for granted. It was the simple solid fact upon which all four of our lives were built. Much later, my mother would tell me that every year when spring came and the air warmed up in Chicago, she entertained thoughts about leaving my father. I don’t know if these thoughts were actually serious or not. I don’t know if she considered the idea for an hour, or for a day, or for most of the season, but for her it was an active fantasy, something that felt healthy and maybe even energizing to ponder, almost as ritual. I understand now that even a happy marriage can be a vexation, that it’s a contract best renewed and renewed again, even quietly and privately—even alone. I don’t think my mother announced whatever her doubts and discontents were to my father directly, and I don’t think she let him in on whatever alternative life she might have been dreaming about during those times. Was she picturing herself on a tropical island somewhere? With a different kind of man, or in a different kind of house, or with a corner office instead of kids? I don’t know, and I suppose I could ask my mother, who is now in her eighties, but I don’t think it matters.”

“I’d seen how just a handful of votes in every precinct could mean the difference not just between one candidate and another but between one value system and the next. If a few people stayed home in each neighborhood, it could determine what our kids learned in schools, which health-care options we had available, or whether or not we sent our troops to war. Voting was both simple and incredibly effective.”

“I grew up with a disabled dad in a too-small house with not much money in a starting-to-fail neighborhood, and I also grew up surrounded by love and music in a diverse city in a country where an education can take you far. I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it.”

“What I knew from working in professional environments—from recruiting new lawyers for Sidley & Austin to hiring staff at the White House—is that sameness breeds more sameness, until you make a thoughtful effort to counteract it.”

“[Y]ou may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be.”

“When they go low, we go high”

“What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family, God is in there somewhere, but me is first.”

“So many of my friends judged potential mates from the outside in, focusing first on their looks and financial prospects. If it turned out the person they’d chosen wasn’t a good communicator or was uncomfortable with being vulnerable, they seemed to think time or marriage vows would fix the problem. But Barack arrived in my life a wholly formed person. From our very first conversation, he’d shown me that he wasn’t self-conscious about expressing fear or weakness and that he valued being truthful.”

“No one, I realized, was going to look out for me unless I pushed for it.”

“My daughters are the heart of my heart and the center of my world”

“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path–the my-isn’t-that-impressive path–and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly.”

“Kids wake up each day believing in the goodness of things, in the magic of what might be. They’re uncynical, believers at their core. We owe it to them to stay strong and keep working to create a more fair and humane world. For them, we need to remain both tough and hopeful, to acknowledge that there’s more growing to be done.”

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“I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” she said. “Because it’s too much money.” “That’s actually not for you to decide, Miche,” my dad said gently, almost offended. “And how are we supposed to decide, if we don’t even know about it?” I looked at them both, unsure of what to say. My mother glanced at me, her eyes soft. My father had changed out of his work uniform and into a clean white shirt. They were in their early forties then, married nearly twenty years. Neither one of them had ever vacationed in Europe. They never took beach trips or went out to dinner. They didn’t own a house. We were their investment, me and Craig. Everything went into us.”

“Studying in countries like China isn’t only about your prospects in the global marketplace. It’s not just about whether you can compete with your peers in other countries to make America stronger. It’s also about whether you can come together and work together with them to make our world stronger. It’s about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world.”

“When rumors about the so-called whitey tape surfaced, a friend who knows me well called up, clearly worried that the lie was true. I had to spend a good thirty minutes convincing her that I hadn’t turned into a racist, and when the conversation ended, I hung up, thoroughly demoralized.”

“She was also deep. It’s what I loved most about Santita. Like me, she could be frivolous and goofy when we were with a larger group, but on our own we’d get ponderous and intense, two”

“Meeting Nelson Mandela gave me the perspective I needed a couple of years into our White House journey—that real change happens slowly, not just over months and years but over decades and lifetimes.”

“The most useless questions an adult can ask a child- What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end”

“I wanted Americans to understand that words matter—that the hateful language they heard coming from their TVs did not reflect the true spirit of our country and that we could vote against it.”

“As Americans obsessed over the threat of terrorism, many were overlooking the racism and tribalism that were tearing our nation apart.”

“Marriage, he told me early on, struck him as an unnecessary and overhyped convention.”

“Ahora creo que es una de las preguntas más inútiles que un adulto puede formular a un niño: «¿ Qué quieres ser de mayor?». Como si hacerse mayor tuviera un punto final. Como si en algún momento te convirtieras en algo y ahí se acabara todo.”

“It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look”

“puke green being the official color of the 1970s—”

“If I were to start a file on things nobody tells you about until you’re right in the thick of them, I might begin with miscarriages. A miscarriage is lonely, painful, and demoralizing almost on a cellular level. When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not. Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not. What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it. I learned this only after I mentioned that I’d miscarried to a couple of friends, who responded by heaping me with love and support and also their own miscarriage stories. It didn’t take away the pain, but in unburying their own struggles, they steadied me during mine, helping me see that what I’d been through was no more than a normal biological hiccup, a fertilized egg that, for what was probably a very good reason, had needed to bail out.”

“When you’re First Lady, America shows itself to you in its extremes.”

“Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”

“Most people were good people if you just treated them well.”

“Barack insisted that we pay for everything ourselves, using what we’d saved from his book royalties. As long as I’ve known him, he’s been this way: extra-vigilant when it comes to matters of money and ethics, holding himself to a higher standard than even what’s dictated by law. There’s an age-old maxim in the black community: You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far. As the first African American family in the White House, we were being viewed as representatives of our race. Any error or lapse in judgment, we knew, would be magnified, read as something more than it was.”

“When voters got to see me as a person, they understood that the caricatures were untrue. I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.”

“Optics would always rule our lives.”

“When Barack was first elected, various commentators had naively declared that our country was entering a “postracial” era, in which skin color would no longer matter. Here was proof of how wrong they’d been. As Americans obsessed over the threat of terrorism, many were overlooking the racism and tribalism that were tearing our nation apart.”

“Even white people were recognizing him now.”

“This was not me and never would be. I could be supportive, but I couldn’t be a robot.”

“America, our moment is now,” Barack said. “Our moment is now.”

“I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.”

“Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”

“They’re not special at all. The South Side is filled with kids like that.”

“One day I made note of a New York Times article I’d read that reported widespread fatigue, stress, and unhappiness among American lawyers—most especially female ones. “How depressing,” I wrote in my journal.”

“There were days, weeks, and months when I hated politics. And there were moments when the beauty of this country and its people so overwhelmed me that I couldn’t speak.”

“I’d been raised to be confident and see no limits, to believe I could go after and get absolutely anything I wanted. And I wanted everything. Because, as Suzanne would say, why not? I wanted to live with the hat-tossing, independent-career-woman zest of Mary Tyler Moore, and at the same time I gravitated toward the stabilizing, self-sacrificing, seemingly bland normalcy of being a wife and mother. I wanted to have a work life and a home life, but with some promise that one would never fully squelch the other. I hoped to be exactly like my own mother and at the same time nothing like her at all. It was an odd and confounding thing to ponder. Could I have everything? Would I have everything? I had no idea.”

“I wanted to believe that there was a guy who’d materialize and become everything to me, who’d be sexy and solid and whose effect would be so immediate and deep that I’d be willing to rearrange my priorities. It just wasn’t the guy standing in front of me right now.”

“It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or a open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful – a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.”

“I understand now that even a happy marriage can be a vexation, that it’s a contract best renewed and renewed again, even quietly and privately—even alone.”

“I’d greet him with a playful fist bump onstage at an event in Minnesota, which would then make headlines, interpreted by one Fox commentator as a “terrorist fist jab,” again suggesting that we were dangerous.”

“A word now about the bar exam: It’s a necessary chore, a rite of passage for any just-hatched lawyer wishing to practice, and though the content and structure of the test itself vary somewhat from state to state, the experience of taking it – a two-day, twelve-hour exam meant to prove your knowledge of everything from contract law to arcane rules about secured transactions – is pretty much universally recognized as hellish.”

“Unspoken was the fact that he could just go. He could walk out the door and catch a cab to the airport and still make it to Springfield in time to vote. He could leave his sick daughter and fretting wife halfway across the Pacific and go join his colleagues. It was an option. But I wasn’t going to martyr myself by suggesting it.”

“We live by the paradigms we know.”

“Whatever deficits I might have arrived with, coming from an inner-city high school, it seemed that I could make up for them by putting in extra time, asking for help when I needed it, and learning to pace myself and not procrastinate.”

“It was a small but life-changing move. I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

“Kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

“meant to be a scaled-down version of your previously full-time job, can be something of a trap. Or at least that’s how it played out for me. At work, I was still attending all the meetings I always had while also grappling with most of the same responsibilities. The only real difference was that I now made half my original salary and was trying to cram everything into a twenty-hour week. If a meeting ran late, I’d end up tearing home at breakneck speed to fetch Malia so that we could arrive on time (Malia eager and happy, me sweaty and hyperventilating) to the afternoon Wiggleworms class at a music studio on the North Side. To me, it felt like a sanity-warping double bind. I battled guilt when I had to take work calls at home. I battled a different sort of guilt when I sat at my office distracted by the idea that Malia might be allergic to peanuts. Part-time work was meant to give me more freedom, but mostly it left me feeling as if I were only half doing everything, that all the lines in my life had been blurred. Meanwhile, it seemed that Barack had hardly missed a stride. A few months after Malia’s birth, he’d been reelected to a four-year term in the state senate, winning with 89 percent of the vote.”

“It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and I accommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them to ever believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.”

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“Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.”

“The private area of the White House occupies about twenty thousand square feet on the top two stories of the main historical structure—the one you’d recognize from photos with its iconic white pillars.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” she said. “Because it’s too much money.” “That’s actually not for you to decide, Miche,” my dad said gently, almost offended. “And how are we supposed to decide, if we don’t even know about it?”

“Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others. The hatred was old and deep and as dangerous as ever.”

“There was also a nearby Container Store and a Chipotle, which made things even better. This was my place.”

“Fulfillment, I’m sure, struck her as a rich person’s conceit.”

“Barack’s head was an overpacked suitcase of information, a mainframe from which he could seemingly pull disparate bits of data at will.”

“After returning from Bali, Barack had spent more than a year writing a second draft of his book during the hours he wasn’t at one of his jobs. He worked late at night in a small room we’d converted to a study at the rear of our apartment—a crowded, book-strewn bunker I referred to lovingly as the Hole. I’d sometimes go in, stepping over his piles of paper to sit on the ottoman in front of his chair while he worked, trying to lasso him with a joke and a smile, to tease him back from whatever far-off fields he’d been galloping through. He was good-humored about my intrusions, but only if I didn’t stay too long.”

“NOT ENOUGH. NOT ENOUGH. IT WAS DOUBT ABOUT WHERE I CAME FROM AND WHAT I’D BELIEVED ABOUT MYSELF UNTIL NOW. IT WAS LIKE A MALIGNANT CELL THAT THREATENED TO DIVIDE AND DIVIDE AGAIN, UNLESS I COULD FIND SOME WAY TO STOP IT.”

“What struck me was how assured he seemed of his own direction in life. He was oddly free from doubt, though at first glance it was hard to understand why.”

“While we stayed rent-free in the residence and had our utilities and staffing paid for, we nonetheless covered all other living expenses, which seemed to add up quickly, especially given the fancy-hotel quality of everything. We got an itemized bill each month for every food item and roll of toilet paper.”

“Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed.”

“I just wanted to achieve. Or maybe I didn’t want to be dismissed as incapable of achievement.”

“The last commencement I attended that spring was personal—Malia’s graduation from Sidwell Friends, held on a warm day in June.”

“Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”

“It was as if he’d surrendered a part of himself as a way of coping.”

“You find ways to adapt. If you’re in it forever, there’s really no choice.”

“Maybe you spend the whole day considering new ways to live before finally you fit every window back into its frame and empty your bucket of Pine-Sol into the sink. And maybe now all your certainty returns, because yes, truly, it’s spring and once again you’ve made the choice to stay.”

“He was like a wind that threatened to unsettle everything.”

“Je crois d’ailleurs que c’est une des questions les plus bêtes qu’un adulte puisse poser à un enfant : Qu’est-ce que tu veux faire quand tu seras grand ? Comme si on cessait un jour de grandir. Comme si, à un moment donné, on devenait définitivement quelqu’un, et qu’alors tout devait s’arrêter.”

“Because what was a basketball game if not a showcase of boys?”

“Even standing on the far edge of the vortex, you still felt its spin.”

“If anyone in our family wanted to step outside onto the Truman Balcony—the lovely arcing terrace that overlooked the South Lawn, and the only semiprivate outdoor space we had at the White House—we needed to first alert the Secret Service so that they could shut down the section of E Street that was in view of the balcony, clearing out the flocks of tourists who gathered outside the gates there at all hours of the day and night.”

“…our stories connected us to one another, and through those connections, it was possible to harness discontent and convert it to something useful.”

“All the while, I could hear the trickle of conversation going on between the adults in the kitchen nearby, my parents’ laughter ringing easy and loud over the yard. I watched my brother in the flow of a sweaty game with a group of boys on the adjacent street corner. Everyone seemed to fit in, except for me. I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go. I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice.”

“He was not like anyone I’d dated before, mainly because he seemed so secure. He was openly affectionate. He told me I was beautiful. He made me feel good.”

“kids will invest more when they feel they’re being invested in.”

“Am I good enough? Yes, in fact I am.”

“I’d said it casually, but the phrase caught hold and was amplified across the press. Some Americans seemed to embrace it, understanding all too well the amount of organization and drive it takes to raise children. Others, meanwhile, seemed vaguely appalled, presuming it to mean that as First Lady I’d do nothing but pipe-cleaner craft projects with my kids.”

“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.”

“Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work.”

“It’s a curious thing to realize, the in-betweenness one feels being African American in Africa. It gave me a hard-to-explain feeling of sadness, a sense of being unrooted in both lands.”

“happy seemed like a starting place for everything.”

“I wasn’t particularly imaginative in how I thought about the future, which is another way of saying I was already thinking about law school.”

“listening to Barack, I began to understand that his version of hope reached far beyond mine: It was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck. I was gripped all over again by a sense of how special he was. Slowly, all around me, too, the church ladies began nodding their approval, punctuating his sentences with calls of “Mmmm-hmm” and “That’s right!” His voice climbed in intensity as he got to the end of his pitch. He wasn’t a preacher, but he was definitely preaching something—a vision. He was making a bid for our investment. The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” It was a phrase borrowed from a book he’d read when he first started out as an organizer, and it would stay with me for years.”

“I’m not sure,” she said, giving me a perfunctory, patronizing smile, “that you’re Princeton material.” Her judgment was as swift as it was dismissive, probably based on a quick-glance calculus involving my grades and test scores.”

“also wanted to make sure that when I visited a new place as First Lady, I really visited it—meaning that I’d have a chance to meet the people who actually lived there, not just those who governed them. Traveling abroad, I had opportunities that Barack didn’t.”

“You don’t know that when a memo arrives to confirm the assignment, some deep and unseen fault line in your life has begun to tremble, that some hold is already starting to slip.”

“If he lost, he’d move on from politics altogether and find a different sort of job. If it didn’t work out on Election Day, this would be the end. Really and for real, this would be the end.”

“It was the very thing I’d had to create room for in our shared life, to coexist with, even if reluctantly. It aggravated me sometimes no end, but it was also what I could never disavow in Barack.”

“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”

“My team and I persuaded Darden Restaurants, the parent company behind chains like Olive Garden and Red Lobster, to make changes to the kinds of food it offered and how it was prepared. They pledged to revamp their menus, cutting calories, reducing sodium, and offering healthier options for kids’ meals.”

“Barack was a black man in America, after all. I didn’t really think he could win.”

“Ahora comprendo que incluso un matrimonio feliz puede ser agotador, que es un contrato que debe renovarse una y otra vez, discreta y calladamente, o incluso a solas.”

“some people handed over their savings and borrowed too much, ending up with a nice home but no freedom at all.”

“We’d aligned ourselves with different foundations and food suppliers to install six thousand salad bars in school cafeterias and were recruiting local chefs to help schools serve meals that were not just healthy but tasty.”

“Most of us lived in a state of constant calibration, tweaking one area of life in hopes of bringing more steadiness to another.”

“Barack’s safety was something I didn’t want to think about, let alone discuss.”

“the burden of assimilation is put largely on the shoulders of minority students. In my experience, it’s a lot to ask. At Princeton, I needed my black friends.”

“I was astonished to see how our leaders treated him only as a threat to their power, inciting mistrust by playing on backward, anti-intellectual ideas about race and class.”

“(America is) just downright mean.”

“This would be the only time in eight years that he’d request my presence in the middle of a workday, the two of us rearranging our schedules to be alone together for a moment of dim comfort. Usually, work was work and home was home, but for us, as for many people, the tragedy in Newtown shattered every window and blew down every fence. When I walked into the Oval Office, Barack and I embraced silently. There was nothing to say. No words.”

“I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people. … What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters.”

“I now tried out a new hypothesis: It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be”

“All of us believe you belong here,” I’d said to the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson girls as they sat, many of them looking a little awestruck, in the Gothic old-world dining hall at Oxford, surrounded by university professors and students who’d come out for the day to mentor them. I said something similar anytime we had kids visit the White House—teens we invited from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation; children from local schools who showed up to work in the garden; high schoolers who came for our career days and workshops in fashion, music, and poetry; even kids I only got to give a quick but emphatic hug to in a rope line. The message was always the same. You belong. You matter. I think highly of you.
An economist from a British university would later put out a study that looked at the test performances of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson students, finding that their overall scores jumped significantly after I’d started connecting with them—the equivalent of moving from a C average to an A. Any credit for improvement really belonged to the girls, their teachers, and the daily work they did together, but it also affirmed the idea that kids will invest more when they feel they’re being invested in. I understood that there was power in showing children my regard.”

“America would bring to Barack Obama the same questions my cousin was unconsciously putting to me that day on the stoop: Are you what you appear to be? Do I trust you or not?”

“I spent much of 2008 trying not to worry about the punches.”

“I owned the fact that I was reaching. Given my background, reaching was really all I could do.”

“Twenty minutes later, I caught sight of Barack across the room, in the grips of what looked to be an endless conversation with the woman, who was doing a large portion of the talking. He shot me a look, implying that he’d like to be rescued. But he was a grown man. I let him rescue himself.”

“We walked to a nearby bar in the same manner we always seemed to walk, with me a step forward and him a step back. Barack was an ambler. He moved with a loose-jointed Hawaiian casualness, never given to hurry, even and especially when instructed to hurry. I, on the other hand, power walked even during my leisure hours and had a hard time decelerating. But I remember how that night I counseled myself to slow down, just a little—just enough so that I could hear what he was saying, because it was beginning to dawn on me that I cared about hearing everything he said.”

“I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most — is it “angry” or “black” or “woman”?”

“If you were a girl with a brain and a dawning sense that you wanted to grow into something more than a wife, Mary Tyler Moore was your goddess.”

“I considered all these people, current and former staff, to be family. And I was so proud of what we’d done.”

“I knew what mattered to me. I didn’t want to be some sort of well-dressed ornament who showed up at parties and ribbon cuttings. I wanted to do things that were purposeful and lasting.”

“I knew I was no smarter than any of them. I just had the advantage of an advocate. I thought about this more often now that I was an adult, especially when people applauded me for my achievements, as if there weren’t a strange and cruel randomness to it all. Through no fault of their own, those second graders had lost a year of learning. I’d seen enough at this point to understand how quickly even small deficits can snowball, too.”

“Voting, for me, was a habit, a healthy ritual to be done conscientiously and at every opportunity.”

“I like the idea of being rigorous about friendship”

“It sounds a little like a bad joke, doesn’t it? What happens when a solitude-loving individualist marries an outgoing family woman who does not love solitude one bit?”

“I was female, black, and strong, which to certain people, maintaining a certain mind-set, translated only to “angry.”

“Nobody who has the words “first” and “black” attached to them ever would. I stood at the foot of the mountain, knowing I’d need to climb my way into favor.”

“It challenged me and humbled me, lifted me up and shrank me down, sometimes all at once.”

“When we fight now, it’s far less dramatic, often more efficient, and always with our love for each other, no matter how strained, still in sight.”

“was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”

“quizá por encima de cualquier otra cosa: hay otras maneras de ser.”

“As Barack often said, what we were doing wasn’t just about a single election. It was about making politics better for the future—less money-driven,”

“to look rather than look away”

“another place.”

“Voting, for me, was a habit, a healthy ritual to be done conscientiously and at every opportunity. My parents had taken me to the polls as a kid, and I’d made a practice of bringing Sasha and Malia with me anytime I could, hoping to reinforce both the ease and the importance of the act.”

“They weren’t striving for perfect, but managed somehow to be always excellent,”

“You got somewhere by building that better reality, if at first only in your own mind.”

“When I thought I had a good idea about something, I didn’t like being told no.”

“realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

“My husband’s career had allowed me to witness the machinations of politics and power up close. I’d seen how just a handful of votes in every precinct could mean the difference not just between one candidate and another but between one value system and the next. If a few people stayed home in each neighborhood, it could determine what our kids learned in schools, which health-care options we had available, or whether or not we sent our troops to war. Voting was both simple and incredibly effective.”

“My friends made me whole, as they always have and always will.”

“Instead, I sank my energy into being the sole animating force in my little common-area universe.”

“If I died, I didn’t want people remembering me for the stacks of legal briefs I’d written or the corporate trademarks I’d helped defend. I felt certain that I had something more to offer the world. It was time to make a move.”

“The color of our skin made us vulnerable. It was a thing we’d always have to navigate.”

“It’s a huge place, the White House, with 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 28 fireplaces spread out over six floors, all”

“In the presence of his certainty, his notion that he could make some sort of difference in the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit lost by comparison. His sense of purpose seemed like an unwitting challenge to my own.”

“As the dogs loped off to explore the perimeter of the yard, I ate my toast in the dark, feeling alone in the best possible way.”

“Tu historia es lo que tienes, lo que siempre tendrás. Es algo que debes hacer tuyo.”

“In the evenings at our apartment, he rehearsed for every outcome, immersing himself in hypotheticals the rest of us found bizarre.”

“Almost from the minute we agreed it would be ok for him to run, Barack became a kind of human blur, a pixelated version of the guy I knew-”

“I hadn’t believed it was possible, but maybe now I did. This was the call-and-response of democracy, I realized, a contract forged person by person. You show up for us, and we’ll show up for you. I had fifteen thousand more reasons to want Barack to win.”

“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses”

“As an organizer working in urban communities, Barack had told me, he’d contended most often with a deep weariness in people—especially black people—a cynicism bred from a thousand small disappointments over time.”

“I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story––and that’s OPTIMISM. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear.”

“on a fancy dress”

“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

“there’s no straight line between effort and reward.”

“I will forever associate with New Yorkers – an instinctive and immediate push back against thinking small. She climbed out of the car, giving me no choice but to drive. ‘Get over it and just live a little’ was her message.”

“In Hawaii, Barack’s intense and brainy side receded somewhat, while the laid-back part of him flourished. He was at home. And home was where he didn’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone.”

“Meeting Nelson Mandela gave me the perspective I needed…that real change happens slowly, not just over months and years but over decades and lifetimes.”

“I also learned that being rich didn’t protect you from failure.”

“Election Day might qualify as a kind of mini vacation, a surreal pause between everything that’s happened and what lies ahead. You’ve leaped but haven’t landed. You can’t know yet how the future is going to feel. After months of everything going too fast, time slows to an agonizing crawl.”

“When you aren’t being listened to, why wouldn’t you get louder? If you’re written off as angry or emotional, doesn’t that just cause more of the same?”

“I’m certain there were others among us who followed their hearts into education, the arts, and nonprofit work or who went off on Peace Corps missions or to serve in the military, but I knew very few of them.”

“The private area of the White House occupies about twenty thousand square feet on the top two stories of the main historical structure”

“I see now that she provoked me in a good way, introducing me to the idea that not everyone needs to have their file folders labeled and alphabetized, or to even have files at all. Years later, I’d fall in love with a guy who, like Suzanne, stored his belongings in heaps and felt no compunction, really ever, to fold his clothes. But I was able to coexist with it, thanks to Suzanne. I am still coexisting with that guy to this day. This is what a control freak learns inside the compressed otherworld of college, maybe above all else: There is simply other ways of being.”

“Beyonce- real life Beyonce-sang a stunning, full throated rendition of the R&B classic “At Last”

“They were unapologetic about prioritizing the needs of their children, even if it meant occasionally disrupting the flow at work, and didn’t try to compartmentalize work and home the way I’d noticed male partners at Sidley seemed to do.”

“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path – the my-isn’t-that-impressive path – and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly.”

“The theory was that when it came to minority candidates, voters often hid their prejudice from pollsters, expressing it only from the privacy of the voting booth.”

“Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I’d flown to London on the presidential jet; we were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes.”

“And to be clear, we were now up against a bully, a man who among other things demeaned minorities and expressed contempt for prisoners of war, challenging the dignity of our country with practically his every utterance.”

“Barack (with the help of Sam Kass) had chosen a restaurant near Washington Square Park that he knew I’d love for it’s emphasis on locally grown foods, a small, tucked away eatery called Blue Hill.”

“time. It was like stepping onstage at your first piano recital and realizing that you’d never played anything but an instrument with broken keys.”

“time. It was like stepping onstage at your first piano recital and realizing that you’d never played anything but an instrument with broken keys. Your world shifts, but you’re asked to adjust and overcome, to play your music the same as everyone else.”

“There’s something innately bolstering about a person who sees his opportunities as endless, who doesn’t waste time or energy questioning whether they will ever dry up.”

“Bin Laden was not invited to dinner, nor was the humanitarian crisis in Libya, nor were the Tea Party Republicans. We had kids, and kids needed room to speak and grow.”

“It turns out that Buckingham Palace is big—so big that it almost defies description. It has 775 rooms and is fifteen times the size of the White House. In”

“Looking back on it now, I think my parents appreciated my feistiness and I’m glad for it. It was a flame inside me they wanted to keep lit.”

“There was no way we could predict how exactly we’d manage things, given that neither of us wanted to be locked into the comfortable predictability of a lawyer’s life. But the bottom line was that we were far from poor and our future was promising, maybe even more promising for the fact that it couldn’t easily be planned.”

“been the norm in either my experience or Craig’s. All this seemed due to a teacher who”

“…erase the worries and go toward whatever I thought would make me happy. It was ok to make my leap into the unknown, because – and this would count as startling news to most every member of the Shields/Robinson family, going back all the way to Dandy and Southside – the unknown wasn’t going to kill me.”

“..and understood there were people capable of being stirred… I tried not to worry, but sometimes I couldn’t help it….Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”

“In the end, aside from issues of pride, my screwup would make no difference at all.”

“when someone shows genuine interest in your learning and development, even if only for ten minutes in a busy day, it matters. It matters especially for women, for minorities, for anyone society is quick to overlook.”

“I wanted to not know that fact for as long as I possibly could.”

“the need to situate someone inside his or her ethnicity and the frustration that comes when it can’t easily be done.”

“We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be American—that if our skin is dark or our hips are wide, if we don’t experience love in a particular way, if we speak another language or come from another country, then we don’t belong.”

“The truth is that the future would arrive with its own surprises—some joyous, some unspeakably tragic.”

“The important parts of my story, I was realizing, lay less in the surface value of my accomplishments and more in what undergirded them—the many small ways I’d been buttressed over the years, and the people who’d helped build my confidence over time. I remembered them all, every person who’d ever waved me forward, doing his or her best to inoculate me against the slights and indignities I was certain to encounter in the places I was headed—all those environments built primarily for and by people who were neither black nor female.”

“Daddy,” she said, sounding almost apologetic. “There’s no one on the road. I don’t think anyone’s coming to your celebration.”

“Even with an entire political party conspiring to see Barack fail, we had no choice but to stay positive and carry on. It was similar to when the Sidwell mom had asked Malia if she feared for her life at tennis practice. What can you do, really, but go out and hit another ball?”

“This was our bid for permanence: a rising generation that understood what was possible—and that even more was possible for them. Whatever was coming next, this was a story we could own.”

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or chieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.”

“If I were to start a file on things nobody tells you about until you’re right in the thick of them, I might begin with miscarriages. A miscarriage is lonely, painful, and demoralizing almost on a cellular level. When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not. Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not. What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it. I learned this only after I mentioned that I’d miscarried to a couple of friends, who responded by heaping me with love and support and also their own miscarriage stories. It didn’t take away the pain, but in unburying their own struggles, they steadied me during mine, helping me see that what I’d been through was no more than a normal biological hiccup, a fertilized egg that, for what was probably a very good reason, had needed to bail out.”

“Our decisions were on us. It was our life, not hers, and always would be.”

“Barack, I’ve come to understand, is the sort of person who needs a hole, a closed-off little warren where he can read and write undisturbed.”

“It’s like a hatch that opens directly onto the spacious skies of his brain. Time spent there seems to fuel him.”

“Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances. At”

“kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn.”

“I loved my country for all the ways its story could be told. For almost a decade, I’d been privileged to move through it, experiencing its bracing contradictions and bitter conflicts, its pain and persistent idealism, and above all else its resilience. My view was unusual, perhaps, but I think what I experienced during those years is what many did—a sense of progress, the comfort of compassion, the joy of watching the unsung and invisible find some light. A glimmer of the world as it could be. This was our bid for permanence: a rising generation that understood what was possible—and that even more was possible for them. Whatever was coming next, this was a story we could own.”

“Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself many times now, through many claims.

Am I good enough? Yes I am.”

“us of his love and steadiness”

“In Chicago, we’d made the mistake of putting all our hopes for reform on the shoulders of one person without building the political apparatus to support his vision.”

“the Hole is a kind of sacred high place, where insights are birthed and clarity comes to visit.”

“My wish for them was the same I had for Sasha and Malia- that in learning to feel comfortable at the WhiteHouse, they’d go on to feel comfortable and confident in any room, sitting at any table, raising their voices inside any group.”

“He wanted to roll back the tax cuts George W. Bush had pushed through for the super-wealthy.”

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others. I wasn’t interested in slotting myself into a passive role, waiting for Barack’s team to give me direction.”

“At one point, we went to Arizona for a quick getaway, and he was mobbed by well-wishers there. This for me felt like a true and odd measure of his fame: Even white people were recognizing him now.”

“sometimes you pick up in the ether, the quiet, cruel nuances of not belonging”

“mine: It was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”

“He’d been in politics for fifteen years now. I continued to think of him as an old copper pot-seasoned by fire, dinged up but still shiny.”

“This was my new world. It’s not to say that everyone at the school was rich or overly sophisticated, because that wasn’t the case. There were plenty of kids who came from neighborhoods just like mine, who struggled with far more than I ever would. But my first months at Whitney Young gave me a glimpse of something that had previously been invisible—the apparatus of privilege and connection, what seemed like a network of half-hidden ladders and guide ropes that lay suspended overhead, ready to connect some but not all of us to the sky.”

“This was the call-and-response of democracy, I realized, a contract forged person by person. You show up for us, and we’ll show up for you. I had fifteen thousand more reasons to want Barack to win.”

“Kids wake up each day believing in the goodness of things, in the magic of what might be. They’re uncynical, believers at their core. We owe it to them to stay strong and keep working to create a more fair and humane world.”

“I had peers who were always a step or two ahead of me, whose achievements seemed effortless, but I tried not to let that get to me. I was beginning to understand that if I put in extra hours of studying, I often close the gap. I wasn’t a straight-A student, but I was always trying, and there were semesters when I got close.”

“As he saw it , it was part of his responsibility, what he’d been elected to do-to look rather than look away, to stay upright when the rest of us felt ready to fall down.”

“to lend my own strength by being caring and present, sitting quietly on the riverbed of other people’s pain. But two days”

“How much resilience did we have? What was our limit? What would be left in the end? The uncertainty alone felt like a threat, a thing that could drown us.”

“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others.”

“Your passion stays low, yet under no circumstance will you underperform. you live, as you always have, by the code of effort/result, and with it you keep achieving until you think you know the answers to all the questions—including the most important one. Am I good enough? Yes, in fact I am.”

“Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”

“This was the difference between me and the Jack and Jill kids, many of whom were now my close friends. I had a loving and orderly home, bus fare to get me across town to school, and a hot meal to come home to at night. Beyond that, I wasn’t going to ask my parents for a thing.”

“Our afternoons together taught me that there was no formula for motherhood. No single approach could be deemed right or wrong. This was useful to see. Regardless of who was living which way and why, every small child in that playroom was cherished and growing just fine.”

“It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

“A senior partner asks if you’ll mentor an incoming summer associate, and the answer is easy: Of course you will. You have yet to understand the altering force of a simple yes. You don’t know that when a memo arrives to confirm the assignment, some deep and unseen fault line in your life has begun to tremble, that some hold is already starting to slip. Next to your name is another name, that of some hotshot law student who’s busy climbing his own ladder. Like you, he’s black and from Harvard. Other than that, you know nothing—just the name, and it’s an odd one.”

“was loved deeply. His grandparents on Oahu doted on both him and his younger half sister Maya. His mother, though still living in Jakarta, was warm and supportive from afar. Barack also spoke affectionately of another half sister in Nairobi, named Auma.”

“As a kid, you learn how to measure long before you understand the size or value of anything. Eventually, if you’re lucky, you learn that you’ve been measuring all wrong.”

“I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself.”

“I think my parents appreciated my feistiness and I’m glad for it. It was a flame inside me they wanted to keep lit.”

“You don’t really know how attached you are until you move away,”

“I’ve been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as an “angry black woman.” I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most—is it “angry” or “black” or “woman”?”

“we’d focused ourselves on doing more than trending for a few hours on Twitter.”

“not going to attempt to offer an analysis of the results. I won’t try to speculate about who was responsible or what was unfair. I just wish more people had turned out to vote. And I will always wonder about what led so many women, in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president. But the result was now ours to live with. Barack had stayed up most of the night tracking the data, and as had happened so many times before, he was called upon to step forward as a symbol of steadiness to help the nation process its shock.”

“in Chicago, you needed a union card. And if you were black, the overwhelming odds were that you weren’t going to get one.”

“So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us there’s only one way to be American — that if our skin is dark or our hips are too wide, if we don’t experience love in a particular way, if we speak another language or come from a different country, then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently. (From Becoming, 2018)”

“These were highly intelligent, able-bodied men who were denied access to stable high-paying jobs, which in turn kept them from being able to buy homes, send their kids to college, or save for retirement.”

“What struck me was how assured he seemed of his own direction in life. He was oddly free from doubt,”

“And we’d managed two terms in office without a major scandal.”

“David held my hand in an earnest way. It was confusing. I knew what I wanted but couldn’t find the words. I hoped that someday my feelings for a man would knock me sideways, that I’d get swept into the upending, tsunami-like rush that seemed to power all the best love stories. My parents had fallen in love as teenagers. My dad took my mother to her high school prom, even. I knew that teenage affairs were sometimes real and lasting. I wanted to believe that there was a guy who’d materialize and become everything to me, who’d be sexy and solid and whose effect would be so immediate and deep that I’d be willing to rearrange my priorities.”

“It pained them, I know, to be cast aside, to be stuck in jobs that they were overqualified for, to watch white people leapfrog past them at work, sometimes training new employees they knew might one day become their bosses.”

“He was in law school, he explained, because grassroots organizing had shown him that meaningful societal change required not just the work of the people on the ground but stronger policies and governmental action as well.”

“We went back and forth, week after week, as I remember it. I was stubborn and so was she. I had a point of view and she did, too. In between disputes, I continued to play the piano and she continued to listen, offering a stream of corrections. I gave her little credit for my improvement as a player. She gave me little credit for improving. But still, the lessons went on.”

“And heaven, as I envisioned it, had to be a place full of jazz.”

“Ma’am sounded to me like an older woman with a proper purse, good posture, and sensible shoes”

“But as I’ve said, failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result. And for me, it felt like that’s exactly what she was planting—a suggestion of failure long before I’d even tried to succeed. She was telling me to lower my sights, which was the absolute reverse of every last thing my parents had ever told me.”

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