“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 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.
That is, until someone dares to start
telling that story differently.
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 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:
a rising generation that understood
what was possible
. . . . Whatever was coming next,
this was a story we could own.”
Michelle Obama, from Becoming
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