Below is a short discussion inspired by the episode "The Gift of Girlfriends with Denielle, Sharon, and Kelly" from The Michelle Obama Podcast.
Everyone can benefit from having someone to watch their backs—even former First Lady Michelle Obama. Her friends have witnessed her in her weakest moments and have been there for her in times of need. She and her friends have built a strong circle of trust with understanding, patience, and love.
In this episode of the Michelle Obama Podcast, Michelle talks to her friends about their experiences as Black women, mothers, and wives of public figures in American politics.
Here’s what we can learn:
- About black invisibility: Black people aren’t being seen—at least not as people that are equally deserving of decency, attention, or recognition as white people are. Michelle and her friends have experienced being ignored and interrupted in their day-to-day experiences.
- About being a working mother: Being a mother and having a career is a demanding combination. They are two entirely separate but equally important roles. The mere fact that mothers juggle both is a testament to how strong a woman can be.
- About being married to a public figure: Michelle and Dr. Malone had to find more time and space to be there for their husband as they dealt with the public eye and the demands of their role as leaders. It’s fortunate that they had each other, and their friends, to hear their woes and help them sort their marriages out.
There will come a time in when our problems will be too much to handle alone and that’s when we need friends the most. When we have someone to lean on, we can go through the trials we face and grow into a better version of who we are.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the episode, "The Gift of Girlfriends with Denielle, Sharon, and Kelly" from the Michelle Obama Podcast.
Black people aren’t being seen—at least not as people that are equally deserving of decency, attention, or recognition as White people are.
Michelle, even as the First Lady, had a White woman cutting her in line for ice cream. When she called the lady out for it, she just went back in line without an apology or even eye contact.
Denielle Pemberton, an executive of a major broadcasting network, had a similar encounter with her team members. While she was standing next to them during lunch, no one even bothered to say hi.
Dr. Sharon Malone, a gynecologist and public health figure, sees this problem of Black invisibility in her White friends in Washington. She says that most of them only have two Black friends: her and her husband.
Skin color should never be a factor of how we’re treated. Everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute to society. There’s so much to who we are than the color of our skin.
Be more polite to strangers. We can make someone’s day a bit better, or at least prevent it from becoming worse, when we treat them with decency and respect.
Being a mother and having a career is a demanding combination. It’s fortunate that they had each other and their friends to hear their woes and help them sort their marriage out.
Being married to a public figure comes with a lot of pressure. Michelle and Dr. Malone had to overcome the shadow of their spouses’ fame, and support their husbands, amidst brutal criticism.
Exercise the right to demand accountability responsibly. Public figures are people too. We can criticize actions without resorting to personal attacks.
A group of good friends provides a lifeline unlike any other. There will come a time in our lives when our problems will be too much to handle alone. And that’s when we need our friends the most.
- Be there for your friends. Sometimes, your mere presence can make all the difference when they’re dealing with problems.
- Be appreciative of your friends. There comes a time when you’re the one in need of someone to lean on. When your friends show up for you, make sure that they know how much you appreciate them.
- Be appreciative of your mother. They deal with their own problems, and they can still keep the family together. Saying thank you and understanding them if they fall short lets them know that it’s all worth it.
- Exercise your right to demand accountability responsibly. Public figures are people too. We can criticize actions without resorting to personal attacks.
- Be more polite to strangers. Almost everyone’s going through something in life. We can make someone’s day a bit better--or at least prevent it from becoming worse--when we treat them with decency and respect.
For a more in depth conversation, the distilld lessons (extended) are here.