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Pop Culture The Word 4 minute read

Oprah & The First Lady

In a room bathed with a hopeful, bright yellow paint, in front of a fireplace accessorized with gold lame flowers and pine garland, behind a bouquet of burgundy and yellow tulips and lilies, two Black woman chatted.

In some ways in was ordinary — something you might see at your local coffee shop or at a happy hour: two Black women, with their bodies turned-in towards each other and clearly tuned-in to each other. There was the easy flow between the two Sistas. They knew each other before they knew each other, as they had walked in each other’s shoes; they had similar corns and bunions from climbing huge mountains of tremendous success, temporarily stumbling over rocks of racism, and tripping over the long, dense weeds of institutionalized sexism — yet they persevered in their climb. Now they could sit at the summit, in gold, ornate, mauve-clothed chairs and chat.

They looked at each other the way good friends should—with admiration and respect. Yaasssss Girl, we did the damn thing. You did the damn thing. I am so damn proud of you! They spoke “our language”, not feeling any pressure to prove their intelligence: Bye Felicia. And their hands and arms, especially Mrs. Obama’s, performed a routine of afro-ballet to further illustrate points. At times, they’d laugh at things that weren’t said aloud—those inside jokes that Sistas exchange between each other with simply a look.

A billionaire and media mogul, a First Lady and double Ivy League graduate –the two most powerful Black women in America intelligently discussed politics, sexism, feminism, children, diversity, stereotypes, change and strength. Their struggles, pain, and lessons played as familiarly as a favorite love song. Ahhhh, yes, I know what you mean Sista. You too, Sista? Been there, done that, Guuurrl!

For instance, we’ve all been the angry Black woman because we didn’t smile enough or pretend that everything was rosy when it wasn’t. In time, as we grow, we learn not to pay much attention to those who view us through their biased lenses. As the First Lady said, “You don’t even know me. That’s not me. It’s about the person who wrote it.”

We learn that some aren’t even seeing us, as they are so blinded by their fear and ignorance. Regardless of our education, behavior, success, or position; some only see a stereotype, which actually frees us to be exactly who we were intended to be. Having no real audience is liberating. Let me live my life out loud.

But these things don’t matter once you become, as Mrs. Obama said, a straight up-grown woman. You know who you are and don’t let the detractors disturb your course. This confidence and ownership of ourselves allows us to brush off the haters and to go high even when they go low. No need to exchange words: I’ll show you. I’ll let my actions and accomplishments speak.

We as Black woman keep on keeping on. Oprah nodded in recognition, as Mrs. Obama talked about how she rarely remembers the bad things that people have done to her or said about her. She follows her mother’s instructions (an instruction of all of our mothers) to keep it moving . . . to brush it off. Isn’t that what we do?

Seeing those two Black woman chat, speaking MY language, MY truths, and validating MY struggles encouraged me to continue to MY climb. Just them being there, being Black, being women, being themselves — gave me all of the boost I needed to just keep being.

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