What Michelle Obama's Farewell Interview With Oprah Meant To Black Women Like Me
For one hour on Monday, she gave us a reprieve from all crazy, gave public voice to our collective angst (“Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like”) and a chance to reminisce, that for eight shining years, there has been another Camelot.
I swooned. I laughed. I even cried.
Happy tears, but tears nonetheless. Monday night’sFirst Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell to the White House: An Oprah Winfrey Special was ev-er-ry- thing! Just, like, two of the most powerful women in the world—one the wealthiest Black woman in the country; the other lauded as one of the most influential—just kiki-ing, flipping hair and being intellectually fabulous on primetime TV about family, fun (glamping!) and the future of the United States.
It was a Moment, capital M. And one we so desperately needed.
I’ve been dazed, depressed and confused every day since Nov. 8, for obvious reasons: the outcome of the election and inevitably having to say goodbye to our beloved First Family on Jan. 20. Mrs. Obama can’t hold off “them” from coming into The White House, but her display of intellect, grace, charm, candor, wit, style and stunning beauty—the new bob and the embroidered Preen midi dress were heavenly— was a weight lifted, if only for one night. For one hour on Monday, she gave us a reprieve from all crazy, gave public voice to our collective angst (“Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like”) and a chance to reminisce, that for eight shining years, there has been another Camelot.
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“Your just being here, being who you are, being yourself, and allowing the rest of us to see that,” Oprah praised. “[It] made us feel that whatever it is you were, we couldn’t be that, we couldn’t be in the White House, but we wanted a little bit of that for ourselves.”
To properly completely recap the best moments of Oprah’s FLOTUS interview, we would have to list every moment and just replay the whole dang thing. But here are the top ten moments of Oprah’s FLOTUS special we’ll be watching again and again.
1. The Love Between the First Couple
A montage of the intimate moments shared between Mr. and Mrs. Obama had me in tears. It’s been amazing to spend eight years watching them openly dote, pine, and hell, lust for one another during their 24 year marriage. Mrs. Obama said she and her husband had grown even closer over the last eight years. “We can’t leave,” she joked. “We’re stuck in here together!”
2. Oprah quoting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Mrs. Obama has been constantly dogged with criticism of being an “Angry Black Woman” throughout her husband’s presidential campaign and presidency. In T, the New York Times Style Magazine, Adichie summed it up at such: “Because she said what she thought, and because she smiled only when she felt like smiling, and not constantly and vacuously, America’s cheapest caricature was cast on her: the Angry Black Woman.” In response to the stereotype thrust upon her, Mrs. Obama said she thought, “dag, you don’t even know me… that is so not me.”
3. Michelle Obama is NOT Running for Office
Mrs. Obama has said countless times that she isn’t running for office, but she said it again, flatly “no”, so maybe the folks in the cheap seats will hear her this time. “I’m not coy…” the First Lady said. “I’m not interested in playing games… It’s not something I would do.”
4. FLOTUS’s Words of Wisdom (and Receipts)
In life, we will all take a few hits. And Mrs. Obama? Well, she’s seen a few daggers thrown in her time at the White House. But she’s always carried herself with an unprecedented grace. Her secret? “Being a grown up,” she said. “I didn’t just wake up First Lady. I went to law school, I practiced law, I worked for the city, I ran a non-profit, I was an executive at a hospital. I’ve been in the world. I worked in every sector. You don’t do that without coming up against some stuff, having your feelings hurt. Over the course of living you learn how to protect yourself in it.”
5. All the Firsts
Obviously, we all knew this was the first Black First Family, but when the Obamas got in, and “on”, they put a lot of other folk on too. “We wanted to open the [White House] doors really wide to a bunch of folks who don’t usually get access to this place,” Mrs. Obama said. The First Couple did that by hiring the first man to serve as social secretary, the first openly transgender staff member and she hung a painting by Alma Thomas, the first work of art by an African American woman inside the White House.
6. FLOTUS’s Master Class in Shade
Mrs. Obama quote, “they go low, we go high” from her speech at the Democratic National Convention has become a popular catchphrase. And Mrs. Obama practices what she preaches. In the hour-long interview, she never mentioned the next President by name, but she did offer a stinging critique and a bit of advice for him: “Words matter. What we say, how we behave, we are modelling to the next generation,” Mrs. Obama told Oprah. “So, if we want maturity, we have to be mature. If we want a nation that feels hopeful. Then we have to speak in hopeful terms.” Bloop!7. Footage from the 2008 Election
I remember exactly where I was when it was announced that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States. I stayed up all night to watch his acceptance speech, then went to a local bar to celebrate. I remember that feeling that anything was possible, that the world would be a better place. I felt hopeful. Unfortunately, I – and many others—don’t feel that way now. FLOTUS summed up my sentiments flatly when she said candidly, “Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.”
8. The First (Little) Girls
I’m in awe of how much First Daughters Sasha and Malia have grown since 2008. I know, I know. That’s what kids do. But they went from such adorable and girls to such beautiful, long-legged poised young women right before our eyes. Over the last eight years, we have watched them grow, literally, up.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.9. “Bye Felicia”
I don’t know why I’m so tickled that FLOTUS knows this popular phrase that originated from the film Friday, and later took on a new life on social media. But Mrs. Obama used it to describe her mother’s take on sticking around Washington, DC with the family after they leave the White House. That’s a no. First Grandmother Marian Robinson has her own life and has made it clear that she’ll be headed back to Chicago to live it unencumbered. The family can call her and she’ll come, but otherwise, Granny is gone.
10. President Obama Stopping By
POTUS wandered on the interview set like he heard the ladies cackling from another room and wanted to join in on the fun. He showed up just long enough to be noticed, drop some words of wisdom about a hopeful future, and compliment his wife as “brilliant and cute and strong and a great mom”. But he was interrupting girl time, so Mrs. Obama, nicely but firmly, put him out with a pat on the hip and a “Bye honey!”