“My parents believed my voice was relevant, that was the gift they gave me.
You have to value a girl and let her speak”.
Speaking to thousands at a sell-out event hosted by London’s Southbank Centre, Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke candidly to prize-winning author Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi about the combatants and allies featured in her bestselling memoir, Becoming.
Telling of how her mother “encouraged us to let our voices be heard” and how her “parents believed…my voice was relevant and my opinions were meaningful and my anger and frustration was real”, she also spoke out about the issues women of colour face in society, and how she was demonised as an “angry black woman”:
“People will literally take our voices, they will take the things from us they like – they will take our hips – because all of a sudden it’s in – our style, our swagger, it becomes co-opted but then we are penalised, we are ‘angry’ we are too loud, we are too everything. And I experienced that, just by having an opinion, how dare I have a voice and use it…You have to slay the dragon in your own mind.”
She also spoke about suffering with “imposter syndrome” – even after having No. 1 bestselling book in the global charts, degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law, lucrative careers as an attorney and administrator, and eight years as one of the most beloved first ladies in history. “Am I good enough’ is something that constantly haunts us as black women,” she confessed. “I still constantly think, ‘Gosh, you are here listening to me?’”
Yes Mrs Michelle Obama: we are. And we’re loving every word you have to offer us!