A Twitter Attack Can’t Set Michelle Obama Back

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Stephanie Racker   Soon after the 2016 Presidential election, the director of a West Virginia non-profit agency posted the following message on Facebook: “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an Ape in heels.” Not surprisingly, her post quickly went viral. Having looked up to Michelle Obama for many years of my life, this post both shocked and offended me. In my eyes, our former first lady represented each and every one of the admiral qualities that the Facebook author originally attributed to Melania Trump. As a biracial American girl who believes that our nation’s diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths, I’m dumbfounded that a fellow American can so easily dismiss the talents and accomplishments of others based on their race. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the classic American success story than Michelle Obama’s. Her father’s job as a city water plant employee didn’t necessarily provide their family with an ample amount of money, but both of Michelle’s parents valued hard work and honesty, two values they made sure to instill in their children. Michelle Obama and her brother didn’t disappoint. Michelle worked hard and excelled at a rigorous high school, Whitney Young, in Chicago. Despite her strong performances in school, her teachers tried to dissuade her from attending Princeton University like her brother. Fortunately, she listened to her own instincts and through disciplined work ethic, earned a spot in Princeton’s class of 1985. After graduating from Princeton University cum laude, Michelle attended Harvard University’s Law School and earned her Juris Doctor degree (a graduate-entry professional law degree), becoming only the third first lady with a post graduate degree. Michelle Obama continued to impress professionally, too: she not only worked at a top notch law firm (Sidley Austin) but also at the University of Chicago before becoming First Lady. It’s not hard to be impressed with Michelle Obama and all that she’s achieved in her life. She is an empowering, uplifting role model for me and other young girls around the world. Michelle Obama’s life is a living advertisement for the value of a strong education, hard work, and perseverance. Her career demonstrates not only what you can accomplish for yourself, but also how you can spearhead change for others. Whether it was through her work with The Reach Higher Initiative (a program she began in 2014 to inspire young Americans to continue their education beyond high school) or Let Girls Learn (a US led global program that helps young girls go to and stay in school around the globe), the former First Lady tirelessly advocated for and recognized how powerful and transformative education could be for young people, especially girls. In my opinion, what makes Michelle Obama’s message so effective and empowering is her underlying grace and dignity. No matter the challenges or statements of ignorance that people throw at her, she continues to pursue her beliefs and values, acting as a voice for the causes she stands for, one of which is acting as an advocate for women’s equality. Throughout her eight years of working to fulfill the duties of The First Lady, Michelle worked tirelessly to preach the importance of women’s rights. Whether in regards to the education of women, the importance of family as women, or the health of women, Michelle Obama worked tirelessly to ensure her actions were received. Michelle Obama’s inspiration, along with inspiration from other female role models, also helped spark what is arguably one of the most important moments for women’s rights movements: The Women’s March. Some joined the movement for political reasons, but the overwhelming majority attended with the same purpose that Michelle Obama had for many of her actions during her eight years in the White House: the need to celebrate and advocate for women. If women are stripped of their education, their health rights, and their ability to be with their family, then society is doing something wrong. Michelle Obama was one of the many important figures in my life that taught me women are equal to men and that nothing should be allowed to take that level of equality away. The march itself helped further the importance that women and men must protect these rights and advocate for the voices of women when they aren’t being heard. Movements like The Women’s March could never have started without the positive influence of purposeful, strong women, like the 44th First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. So, no, it was sad to see “a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady” leave the white house.  ]]>