“How much of yourself had to be quieted while you were in the White House?” Hoda Kotb asked Michelle Obama on a book tour stop in Philadelphia. “So much of it,” the former first lady answers.
“It was no accident that our children had to show up right in the world. They carried a burden of making sure they weren’t messy,” Mrs. Obama shares in an exclusive audio clip shared with ESSENCE of her new Audible podcast, which launched Tuesday.
“It wouldn’t have been laughed off,” she continues. “It wouldn’t have been [dismissed as] just ‘oh it’s youthful’ whatever. It would have been some bigger statement about the soul of Black folks…That weight is exhausting.”
The interview was captured during Michelle Obama’s live tour for her latest bestseller, “The Light We Carry,” and is now available as part of the podcast.
Fittingly called “Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast,” each episode features conversations the beloved first lady had with high-profile guests during her tour, ranging from Tyler Perry to Tracee Ellis Ross.
LISTEN: Michelle Obama on the weight of being the “first.”
The podcast “goes beyond the book as Michelle Obama and her friends share personal stories and insights listeners won’t encounter anywhere else,” a statement reads.
In the first episode with veteran journalist Kotb, titled “Kids Just Want Our Gladness,” Obama also noted the pressure that fell on her and her husband’s shoulders.
“The mission during those eight years was bigger than just my voice. We were the first. Hopefully not the only. But we were the first. And when you’re the first at stuff, especially the first in the biggest spotlight [with] the world watching you, you don’t want to mess it up.”
Obama has certainly made her voice heard since Trump succeeded the Black first family, including in her conversations during the six-city book tour, which brought her to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles last fall.
Months prior to the tour, when Barack and Michelle Obama returned to the White House for the reveal of their official White House portraits, Mrs. Obama criticized the increasingly divisive tenor of politics since Trump’s ascent.
“We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power,” Mrs. Obama remarked during their unofficial homecoming. “This day isn’t about me…it’s about telling a fuller story that includes every single American. And as much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination might have dimmed that light, I still know deep in my heart that what we share [and] our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.”
All eight episodes of the series will be available for streaming on Audible exclusively for two weeks and then widely available on other platforms.