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We are all every single one of us, no matter where you live, no matter your station, no matter your skin color, no matter your age, we are all writing our futures in pencil. Yeah, this is a moment you only call me when you need something. I need to be free from the spread. I like beaches. Hello, everybody, I am Michelle Obama and this is the Michelle Obama podcast, and on this episode, we will be discussing our relationship with ourselves.


We've all been dealing with a lot of change lately from the outrage and despair, the protests seeking racial justice to this historic and life altering pandemic, all of which has upended so much of life as we've always understood it, this change can be a lot and it can feel heavy.


And the thing is, we're left to deal with this stuff at a moment when we're forced to spend more time alone, more time in our own heads than we're used to dealing with.


All of this change we're experiencing isn't always easy and it is not always comfortable.


But what I've learned is that this kind of solitude can be revealing, almost healing, I couldn't think of anyone better to discuss all of this with than my dear, dear friend and confidante Michele Norris. Now, you might recognize Michelle's voice. She is a decorated journalist, and for years she's anchored, All Things Considered on NPR.


One of the things I love most about Michelle is her ability to listen. How have you been handling it? I mean, how how are you in covid quarantine times? How are you managing? I'm doing OK. You know, I wake up every day and count my blessings. You know, our family is together, you know, and they're healthy. Thank goodness.


I tried to establish routines for everybody. And then I realized that my children are now adults and they need to establish their own routines.


And for them, you asked me about me, but I'll talk about them first. Their different personalities emerged.


So one of my children is like a vampire and is up all night. And I don't know if that's because the rhythm has changed or because the house, they don't have the house to themselves at night and the refrigerator to themselves.


And no one is saying without your pride and I really want to know the lucky charms, you know, without mama critics.


So are you just now coming out of your room? Did you shower? Have you eaten anything today?


So one of them literally is is like a Nightcrawler, you know, up all night and then sleeps all day and emerges kind of in time for dinner. My other child is a planner and makes a list and does everything but is doing it all like from the bed.


So it doesn't feel scary and it gets done. But it's, you know, so, you know, showers do or don't happen.


And but the thing that I was able to use to organize the house is meal time. Mm hmm. So we don't eat at a specific time and we probably should. That would help. But we do eat together every day.


Breakfast is kind of fuzzy because not everybody is up. Yeah. And I first started to lay out breakfast, like, here's your breakfast buffet and then like a bed and breakfast cereal.


That was that was I don't know what I was. You still don't want them to be that. No, I was put in a yogurt cups. Oh. You know, and I should have come to your house. You should have.


I felt like I lost control of a lot of things, but I had control of my kitchen for Barack and I. We've we've lived outside of the norm of regular life for quite some time.


And what we learned early on in the White House is that in order to to stay sane and to feel like the human that you once were is that you have to have a schedule and a routine that's pretty that's pretty lockstep.


So we were in the habit of, you know, I get up, you know, I don't have to set my alarm, but I don't get up at the same time, roughly around the same time.


I mean, but my sleep is off, too. And I've heard this from a lot of people.


It's, you know, because we're not moving around as much. So I'm not as tired.


I'm not I'm not knocked out tired like I usually am at nine o'clock.


I'm going to bed a little bit later, so and I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worried about something or there's a heaviness.


But if I sort of set aside an uneven night, I do tend to wake up at the same time, not the crack of dawn, but pretty much like six, seven o'clock. Then I try to make sure I get a workout in.


Although there have been periods throughout this quarantine where I just have felt too low, you know, I've gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels where you just don't feel yourself. And sometimes there have been a week or so where I had to surrender to that and not be so hard on myself and say, you know what, you're just not feeling that treadmill right now. But that's unusual for you. It is unusual. And it is you know, it's a direct result of just being out of out of body, out of mind and spiritually.


These are not they are not fulfilling time spiritually, you know. So I know that I am dealing with some form of low grade depression, not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife. And just seeing this administration watching the hypocrisy of it day in and day out is dispiriting. So I've had to kind of give myself that those days, those moments, but for the most part, staying in routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside.


But schedule has been key and having a regular dinner time. And I'm finding that in quarantine. We look forward to that because we in our house, what we all do is go off into our little workspaces. Right. Barack's in his office making calls, working on his book, I'm in my room that the girls are on their computers and sometimes we're outside if the weather permits. But we've developed this routine. Of, you know, we don't really worry about seeing one another in the day, but right around five o'clock everybody comes out of their nooks and we like do an activity like puzzles have become big just just sitting and doing these thousand piece puzzles.


The girls are just like into them and we're all sitting on the floor around a table with a puzzle is now permanently set up. And then we sit down for dinner and we talk some more. And then afterwards, the girls and Barack and another friend, they're they've they've got a spades tournament. So Barack has taught the girls spades. And now there's this vicious competition that they wouldn't have sat down. But for this quarantine to learn how to play a card game with their dad, they wouldn't and master and master it.


You know, we don't need as much we know and the knowledge of anything not to put anybody out of work, but this time has taught me how to do my own waxing do Monday.


You're waxing. You're waxing. I am impressed. I did.


But it's like there's a lot of stuff I'm figuring out. If I want it done, I got to figure out how to do it. But that's how we were raised. Right? Right. You know, nobody was going to the nails. My mother never nails the nails. And now there was you better learn how to do this. I even saw a nail hide and not until I was a lawyer. I tell my girls that it's like I never went got a manicure until I was a lawyer in a big firm making money.


And I remember many of the beauticians worked in there was the phrase kitchen beautician.


Oh, God, yeah. My first hairdresser, she had her. This was Mrs. Stewart Cross Alley. Mm hmm. Press my hair in her basement.


Just when you said press my hair, she pressed precision on her and my hips and my ears like that sit still. But, you know, this was before there was that little little cylindrical thing that the hot comb, the heater thing, they just put it on the top of the stove on the fire.


But, you know, there's a there's a beauty and being reminded of our own self-sufficiency during this time. You know, in that way, I understand people who want to be out in the wilderness, you know, eating what they kill, building this. I appreciate that. Because when things fall apart, if you don't have the skills and tools to figure out how to just do some of the stuff on your own, you can be lost. You know, so I understand that American independence, that quest for, you know, I can do this on my own.


There's I respect that.


Have you found that for the girls that this has been a recalibration where they've discovered that sometimes it's OK to just be.


Yes, I like they're not running all the time. Yes. Yes. It's an unburdening for them. You know, I don't know if they've articulated it, but there is a calm in them. It's almost like they needed the world to stop a little bit. And they didn't realize that they were that the world they were on in the way they were living, it was so treadmill like so fast and furious because it was all they ever knew, you know, this generation of the Internet and social media and constant Instagram and posting and and knowing too much and having access to too much information and at this stage worrying about who you want to be and where you want to go.


And did I get in and taking the test and what's the internship? It is just been relentless. The world was a lot slower when we were growing up.


You know, it's interesting because we did have television. We had periodicals that came to the house, you know, magazines catalog. I like. Yes. Oh, my goodness. Yes. And we had this magazine called Ranger Rick.


Oh, that sounds like some minutes. Oh, it wasn't. It was it was totally bizarre. And, you know, like, let's go looking for slug's.


Let's see what we would look forward to that. That would come like once a month. Yeah. And they give you activities and things. You did that that was that was big time. Oh, yeah.


And we did that for the whole month. You know, it would last for the whole month then. And we had a we had a subscription to National Geographic, which was a big deal for my parents. We were never allowed to touch it after we ate no greasy fingers on the National Geographic.


And you know, when you made collages and you would cut up, you could not use the National National Geographic. And my father got one of those. Magazine holders, so they were all like displaying oh, you all were January, February, March in order it was his thing and then year by year by year by year.


But it's interesting because when we were growing up, that was how we understood the world. And there was a sense of preparing us to go out into that world that was so different from the little cocoon that we were growing up in.


We were slowly spoon fed into the world if if we were lucky and there was time for it.


Right. I grew up with kids who had never, never got the opportunity to see Lake Michigan because they live so close, even though it was so close, they were kids.


And I've talked about this as first lady when we when I've gone to museums and openings and things like that. And the thing I think about our all the kids who don't get to see these places because they don't feel welcome, because in many ways they have felt quarantined to their little worlds, to their communities, because there's a fear of going out. There's a fear of trying something different. There's a fear of the unknown. So when you don't feel welcome and you don't feel safe and you don't feel secure in your space, then you then you don't explore.


You don't investigate. If you don't feel comfortable going downtown Chicago, how do you feel comfortable thinking about the world in that National Geographic book that you guys saw?


You know, I think about this a lot because there are you know, I love Minnesota. I love Minnesota. But I I knew that I was going to leave Minnesota. And I mean, at a really early age, I knew that as much as I love my people and and the land of lakes, I knew that I was going to go someplace else. And I wonder, maybe it was the National Geographic magazines. Was it something that my parents instilled in me?


Because there were a lot of people that I grew up with who didn't leave and who barely leave the south side of of Minneapolis and.


And I wonder how much of it was told to us overtly or was just the messaging because as young black kids.


Getting ready to go out into a world that was not really fully ready to accept us, our parents had to do some sort of jujitsu messaging around that.


Right, because they were trying to encourage us to be bold, to go out into the world.


But at the same time, they were terrified of what would happen if we did. And so how do you how do you give your kid wings in that situation? And I think about that.


Well, I think that's the miracle of our our parents generation of parenting, especially in minority working class black communities. So I remember my grandfather, right. My his mother was so afraid for him, you know, so that kept him locked down that that kept his aspirations small because there were real risks in trying to to operate outside of what you knew.


My mother kind of understood that that's what held her father back. And so while she still carried those fears that that that fear of trying, of moving beyond what, you know, still exist in her generation, she was very, very clear and deliberate about not passing that fear on to us, because, like you, I always saw a bigger place for myself. But that came not just from the messages from my dinner table, but it came from those moments of dreaming of day, dreaming, of sitting alone and quiet and thinking about myself, my stories, making things up in my head.


Right. It's that quiet time that gave me the space to think about the life I wanted to build for myself, even at five and 10 and 11 and 12. Right.


We also were kids in the 1970s. And so our cultural diet provided us images and things that our our parents didn't see.


I mean, they didn't grow up watching television, Soul Train, actually.


You got to watch Soul Train. I grew up in Minnesota where we didn't have Soul Train.


You didn't have. No, no. We had to do what we got today from 11 to noon. And it's amazing that so much amazing music has come of it. I know I feel bad for me, really.


We the prince didn't even have to train.


So when I would go visit my my father's family, you know, cousins and they and all his brothers, one by one moved to Chicago, we would get to Chicago. And I was more excited about more than wimpy burgers, more than going downtown, more than you remember, would be worth more than Harrell's fried chicken. More than anything, I wanted to be able to watch Soul Train.


Oh, man. You know, you're right. We had all these cultural experiences that we shared that helped shaped our view of the world. But they were also limitations, right? Because you think of, you know, you have seven channels and a handful of TV shows that everybody's watching. And so what is the that that meant that every depiction of blackness came from like three shows, right? It was you were either the Evans family on good times, living in Cabrini Green with dynamite.


Right. And good times. We lucky to have them. Right.


Or you will George Jefferson, you know, moving on up, you know, and or you were Julia or you, which I loved. Julia. Julia.


Julia just seemed to be like a calm.


She was beautiful and smart and independent and wise.


But all of those shows and all those characters meant so much because it would be the only depiction. I remember my father being so upset. He hated good times because he hated J.J. Walker as the only characterization of black people. He felt like that he was too much of a character. And we love that show. It was a wonderful show.


But that's how important that's how impactful TV images were on the culture and particularly for black people, because that was all anybody ever saw of us.


The Michelle Obama podcast continues after the break. There's kind of a new covid vocabulary, isn't it? There are some words that have always had some meaning, but that take on different meaning. Now the word hero. Yeah, the word essential. Oh, yes. Yes. You know, because we think I think we will forever think about the word essential in a different way. And when we were told to stay home, they got up, got dressed and went out into the world, risking their lives to drive garbage trucks, to work in warehouses, to work in grocery stores, to work in hospitals, often doing invisible, but, yes, essential work.


And I struggle with it because I'm not sure that we treat them like their essential.


And that's something that we need to that's a part of that reflection that we need to do, you know, with ourselves and and as a community, and we have to think about that in terms of how wealth is distributed, you know, how how these essential people are supported and what does that mean? A lot of these people are broke. They don't have health insurance that it would if they were to get sick, as essential as they are, we have not as a society deemed it essential to make sure that they can go to the doctor and get the care that they need.


And even if they can get covid care, even if they can get tested to keep working and doing our stuff after the effects of the virus have worn off and they are dealing with some lung issue or some breathing issue or asthma, that they don't have to wait in an emergency room for hours on end and then worry that they can even afford the prescription medication that they need to survive. I mean, we have to think about this. We have to think about the people who are not from this country, who are essential workers.


A lot of those folks are still out in the fields picking our corn and making sure that that food is in our grocery stores and working in these meatpacking plants to ensure that the cow that was slaughtered gets into our bellies and is safe and in a safe and efficient way.


We got to stop and think about who is dying from this disease and who and who will have trouble recovering. You know, what is been one of many frustrating things to watch in this pandemic is people who aren't willing to make the sacrifice of even wearing a mask, you know, to stay at home because they don't see the virus. It didn't impact them. They're tired of being at home. There's almost like there's a limit to our sacrifice. And it was about a month.




And then we just got tired of the virus. That's been disheartening to see so many people who, you know, have grown tired of staying at home because the virus didn't impact them.


Yeah, it's the US and them pennyman it affected those people. Yeah. And hasn't really affected me.


So why should I have to. Not get my haircut, you know, why can't I go to a restaurant, you know, everything is fine here, but here we are watching this virus continue to spread. It has behaved in the way that all the scientists have predicted that staying at home can only flatten the curve if we continue to remain vigilant. And it's not enough if one city does it and the neighboring town doesn't, because the virus doesn't know boundaries, it doesn't know parts of the country or even parts of the world.


So having one state fact stay at home orders while another state is gradually reopening while another state isn't employing any precautions, has led us to the stage where we don't know when the virus will be curbed.


And it's not enough to just acknowledge that the pain exists, to acknowledge the struggle, we actually have power. We can we can change so much of what we do. We can sacrifice a little more. We can we can shift priorities and not just in our own lives, because it's not enough to just do it in your own life. If you're not willing to do it in our broader policy, you know that at that convert, if those conversations aren't going to happen, then we're just giving lip service to it.


You know, the great pause needs to become the great recalibration. We've seen these times in our history before, not just like this, but but but when things are good, it's easy to forget about that. Take it for granted to start thinking, yeah, how much do I really want my taxes going to that and school lunches.


And, you know, that's a lot of money. What does it matter? Let's cut this. Let's chop that. But all of that came. All the things that we look to cut were put in place in response to some crisis that reveal to us that, hey, there are a lot of hungry kids at home because their parents are poor. So what's the best way to feed them? We're going to provide them with nutrition at school.


So we have it in our country's DNA to step up.


But we can't forget that. We shouldn't assume that we will. We should we cannot assume that we will. It took great leadership to rally the country to to set up regulations during the time of the Great Depression to make sure that banks wouldn't go under. And with great opposition, always with great opposition, because you're asking people to sacrifice, to give up things that that they think they deserve, that they're entitled to for the sake of the greater good.


We are all going through a significant period of evolution, and it means that there's an opportunity in that it feels burdensome right now because so much has been taken from us. But there's such an incredible opportunity to decide how you want to show up in the new world, because it will be a new world. And my greatest hope is that we don't reach for normal, that we reach for better. Oh. Snaps I love that, yeah. Don't reach, don't reach for normal, reach for better.


In this moment of tumult and uncertainty, a lot of people are feeling the highs and the lows.


They've been real for me. And, you know, I don't think I'm unusual in that. But I'd be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we're seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest that has plagued this country since its birth.


I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow being dehumanized or hurt or killed or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting and and and it has led to a weight that I haven't felt in my life in a while.


You know, I spend a lot of my time thinking about race and identity and studying race and identity. And that aspect of my work has been roiling, you know, and it started really with the pandemic and the racial disparities that were apparent almost immediately and who was getting sick and who had access to testing and then who was dying. But there was there's been this period where it's been a rat, a tat tat of death that just doesn't even make sense.


The killing of Amadou Aubry. Immediately followed by Brianna Taylor and then. The killing of Jorge Floyd in in a manner that just didn't just doesn't I mean, I'm trying to find the right words to describe how much it hurt to watch that video.


And I made myself watch that video. You know, literally squeezing the life out of someone. I feel like it's almost it creates a certain sense of vertigo, I think, for us, because. We were told it was supposed to be better. We believed that we had made progress and we have you are a manifestation of that. But on some level, our feet are still almost Samarian. On some level, this country still has not dealt with some very basic hard truths about who matters.


We knew it was there. Yeah, right. We we saw it right. I think for me, I had hoped that those were just the last vestiges of it. And maybe it is because we don't know what the future holds, but we've just been given just enough to be lulled into thinking that maybe is gone. But there were signs, you know, the fact that we have prisons full of black men, the fact that a kid with a small possession of drugs can be sent to prison for most of his life.


We see it in the continued economic disparity. We saw it in the fight for the Affordable Care Act. I mean, the notion that we live in a country where all people don't have access to quality health care. And yes, there are disparities for sure. We we lived those disparities. I worked in a hospital. I saw our emergency room filled with people coming in with preventable illnesses like asthma and other diseases that with proper preventative care, they would be healthy and living a great life.


We saw it there. We saw it in just how adamant Mitch McConnell was to and how he treated the first black president. You know, the reaction to it on all sides, the the vast discomfort with the notion that a black man could be sitting in the highest level of office. We saw that. We saw the signs. We saw the the nooses. We heard, you know, but we had also hope that, well, there were some people who elected them.


You know, there's some people who voted for that black man. You know, things have changed. So there were signs. There were there were signs that still doesn't take away the hurt in the pain.


That comes with realizing.


That the people that we so many of the people we share this planet with, the people that we worked for, whose floors we cleaned, whose fields of cotton we picked, who we've tried to live next door to and raise our children with the people we serve on boards and sit in classrooms and got degrees with. That they still don't see us as human. What does it take? How do we get here, how how are we still here? And how are people OK with it?


And that hurts. Oh, that was what was so soul crushing about the video that showed the George Floyd death because, you know, he sat on him like a ranch hand, sits on an animal.


I mean, it was it was just it was awful.


It takes you back to those pictures of folks standing around lynched bodies in trees, eating a hot dog.


And it's the same feeling. And I wonder, is that the intent? Is that really the intent? Is that how, you know, our neighbors want us, want us to feel?


And we we talk about fear. Right. You know, they talk about white women clutching their purchases at the sight of us or feeling uncomfortable when we walk in the store.


But I wonder, do you know how afraid how each year we live with all the time, every day because we know that they are white folks who see us as not human and have been told stories about us that are not true, that have no bearing on who we are as hardworking, decent citizens to know. So, yeah, that's going to create some kind of feeling when you you have to look at some your neighbor and say, is that what you think is?


Is that how you see me or my brother or my my cousin or my.


How would you think of us? Is this where you want us to go as a country? And I think we have to have those conversations among not just among ourselves, but with our neighbors and our colleagues. And I'm at a point in time where I need some clarity about, well, what do you mean, what now? What do you really mean? What do you really want? What is really your vision for this country that we all invested in?


All of us, all of our blood, sweat and tears. I know my my great, great grandmother's blood is in the soil of this country. I know my my grandfather and those wore the uniform and fought in wars on behalf of this country. I know that I've tried to do my part, getting a good education and serving as first lady and trying to do it with a level of dignity and representing every American, sometimes at the expense of our own community who felt like we were a little bit too accommodating to people who were not black.


We weren't black enough. So you're saying we don't have a stake in this country, that that we don't belong? Well, then whose country is this? And I think that people are, you know, react in a way this that that suggests that they're tired.


Never in my life would I have thought that Minneapolis and the south side of Minneapolis, 10 blocks from where I grew up, at the corner of 30th and Chicago, that that would be the epicenter for a wave of protests that would sweep around the globe. That would lead to the removal of of monuments and statues and lead to a moment of reckoning and cognition. I almost said reconciliation because I don't think we're there.


Reconciliation yet. So reckoning and recognition in this country. A number of things that we weren't clear about just a few weeks ago. I mean, people now are embracing the notion that black lives matter, all kinds of people. It's on city streets not far away from here. It's on sports uniforms. We were clear on that just a few weeks ago. You know, the retort was, we don't all lives matter now. I think we've established that the importance of saying black lives matter, the importance of talking about racial equity and the disproportionate distribution of opportunity and education and so many things.


But I wonder if you think that that will last. We don't.


You need to do to make sure that it's not just a passing moment.


I don't know.


I am heartened by the depth, the sustained vigor, the diversity, the peaceful nature of these protests. That is that helps me sleep at night. That that reminds me of the truth. You know, that no matter how I feel or what my level is, that we are making progress. There is that truth. And Barack and I talk about it all the time, that this is a generation that is not used to the way things were because we raised them differently.


And we, meaning every parent, black, brown, white, rich, poor. We instilled in this generation a different sense of fairness and justice. Right. Because all these kids wouldn't be out on the in the streets if they weren't hearing something that made the sight of these killings or the knowledge of. These killings intolerable to them, where they are taking to the streets at the expense of their health in the middle of a pandemic, that it's powerful and that is a good thing, that show that shows our growth, the sustainability piece, it's the next and most important question because we are in a pandemic.


And as we discussed earlier, this has put us in a position where we we have time on our hands, where we can't look away, where we can't go back to business as usual, where we can't go squirrel. Right.


And, you know, there are no shiny object. Exactly. What's the next shiny object? We are forced to stare hard and cold and fast on the truth of where we are in this country. And we've had time to pass it apart in our own souls and to discuss it at our dinner tables in a way that makes it hard to get back to business as usual. But when that happens, when the light gets shown back on real life, will we go back to business as usual?


I hope not, but it takes longer than months. I think that's the message to a lot of these young people out here. You know, it's going to take years of this kind of engagement, but these young people haven't yet had the experience of that kind of sustainability because they have lived in an instant world, instant fame, instant wealth. This will be their lesson in sustainability. And we will also see come November when the real work of change happens and it can only happen at the ballot box in a democracy, revolution rarely works right in the history of the world.


I think history shows us that that's not the best bet. The best bet is a democracy with active, engaged citizens voting in leaders who are accountable. History has shown us that in countries where there have been democracies like that, that's where change is lasting.


So November will be another milestone of reckoning on whether we're ready for this for the long haul. And, you know, I'm doing my part. All of us, so many of us are doing our part to just drive home the point that do not listen to this propaganda about your vote, not counting that people are saying with clear intent on trying to suppress the vote.


And we need to make sure that the energy, the incredible energy that you've seen on the streets in so many places and not just in big cities and small towns, that that translates to civic action.


Yes, the hardest work that you can do is to confront the racism inequality in your own life. And that I think my feeling is a lot of people have hesitated to have some of those hard conversations and to reconcile the inconsistencies in their beliefs and in some of the worlds they inhabit. It is hard if you were sitting at a boardroom to notice that everybody around that table is the same. And it's very hard to make the decision to either add more chairs to that table, to diversify it or to get up and get out of the seat to let somebody else come in.


That's a hard that's harder than going to your basement and finding a piece of cardboard and writing some kind words on a sign that is harder to do because you're given up some writing.


It is harder to sit down at the Thanksgiving table and have some hard conversations with relatives and people that you love who are misinformed.


Like I said, everybody in this country knows somebody in their lives close to them who has allowed this to exist or has just conveniently not brought it up.


And it has been very easy to just ignore it, you know, not to challenge hires at the table, not to give up your tax break to improve education systems.


You know, that's the hard work for me.


I think time will only tell whether we have it in us as a nation to do that work.


I think we do. Well, I mean, I think we do, and I think I'm a pragmatist also, I think we better. We must. We must. I agree with you, Michelle. I you know, I tend to think that what my time serving as first lady has shown me is that this this this is a a decent kind of country that people are just trying to get by. They know what they know. They're willing to know more.


They're willing to be open. But everybody is working hard. Everybody is strapped. You know, this economic inequality isn't just hitting black folks, right? There are a lot of working class folks and small towns, farmers losing everything right now who are feeling and have felt for a very long time a level of stress that has, unbeknownst to them, it has nothing to do with race and ethnicity, and it has everything to do with the capitalistic structure.


It's all an economic issue. But when you're hurting and you're afraid and you were struggling to and you see, you know, you were told that others are advancing at your expense and those others are people of a different hue, you know, your fear takes over because you're in survival mode, too. And we've got to find a way, all of us, to see that humanity in each other so that there aren't us in them. So I think in the end, that's what we have to remember.


I mean, it's easy for us as people of color to demonize folks who are out there protesting against Black Lives Matter. They're not right in their positions, but their fears are coming from somewhere because folks aren't just crazy. You know, folks are out there trying to work and trying to keep it together. And when you can't do it and when things feel stacked against you, as many of the people who are afraid are, then you lash out.


So that's why in the end, we've got to have leadership in there that's going to look out for the best interest of all of us. We're so close.


If we could just open up and empathize a bit and spend more time trying to wonder where folks anger comes from and to put ourselves in those shoes, not just white folks in black shoes, but vice versa, we can understand where the common challenges are and we can start doing that work to get us to a better place.


When you feel the lows, how do you get through that? How do you keep moving forward? Well, this is the part of. Of knowing yourself, knowing how to replenish yourself with the things that do bring you joy. So for me, my spirit is is lifted when I am feeling healthy, when I am surrounded by good people, you know, so I reach out, I reach out to my family and to my friends.


Even in this time of quarantine, you know, I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy and my girlfriends, my husband, my my kids. It's it's it's the small things. It's small, the small rituals. Right.


For me, there's no magic to it, but it is effort. Right, because you have to recognize that you're in a place, a bad place in order to get out of it. So you kind of have to sit in it for a minute to know this is I'm feeling off. So now I got to I got to feed myself with something better. And sometimes for me, that means turning it off. Right. It made me turning off the phone, not taking in the news because it is negative energy.


I learned that in the days in the White House and sometimes we feel like that's irresponsible to just cut off. And I think it is if you do it over the long term. But for me, for my mental health, there's sometimes I cannot. Look, I need to just take a moment. And to just not look for second, I try to be honest about it with both my kids, but especially my daughter, because the strong black woman trope.


Yes. Is a cement necklace. Oh, God, yes. You know, that's supposed to feel like pearls. It's supposed to be a compliment. But what it is, is it perpetuates the notion that we can throw anything at you.


We can just hurl anything at you and you will catch it and look elegant doing it.


And that's just not true. And so I try to be honest in my low moments. You know, this has been a tough day. This has been a tough day.


We will get through this, you know, because the thing we have to remember is that we've been through tough times in this nation and we we are in a unique moment in history. We are living through something that no one in our lifetimes has lived through it. 2020 is just extra. Who would end its life, you know, what's a war do you have for 20, 20? I just want to thank Michelle for joining me today, and I just want to revisit something that she said in the middle of our conversation.


She said, don't reach for normal, reach for better. Not really feels like what we're all trying to do right now, especially when it comes to seeking out real and lasting justice. So many of us are finding out that's easier said than done. Reaching for something better is hard and it is draining and it's difficult to sustain. So to all of you out there who are working so hard for better and having those difficult conversations with your family members during this time, pushing the people in power to make long overdue changes, I just hope that you all are also finding the time to take care of yourselves, because I couldn't be more proud of the work that folks are doing out there.


I couldn't be more inspired by the way that so many people are making their voices heard and the changes that have already been achieved as a result of that work. But as you're probably finding out now, this is a process that is going to take not just days or weeks, but years and decades. It's a relay race. And and we've got to pass the baton off to each other so that we can keep up the momentum and the enthusiasm that we're going to need to make sure this change is ultimately implemented.


So make sure that you all are listening to your spirits and to your bodies through this period. And when you need a moment to recharge, take it and do not feel guilty about needing to take that break. Because in the end, if we want to do anything to change in this world of ours, it's got to start with each of us individually having the energy to show up in the world the way we want to. That's how it all begins right inside your mind and right inside your heart.


So good luck out there, everybody, and thank you for listening. I'll talk to you again soon. The Michelle Obama podcast is a Spotify original presented and produced by Higher Ground Audio in collaboration with Dusseldorp Productions from Higher Ground Audio, Dan Fierman, Anna Holmes and Mukta Mohan are executive producers.


Jenny Marrable is our editorial assistant. Adam Sachs is our consulting producer from Dusseldorp Productions. Mischa Youssef is the executive producer R-1 Next. And Jonathan Shiflett are the producers additional production support from Mary Knoff. Jonathan Shiflett is also our engineer. Monica Wilhelm is the archival producer and transcriber. Rachel Garcia is the editorial assistant.


Daniel Ek, Dawn Ostroff and Courtney Holt are executive producers for Spotify Special thanks to Mackenzie Smith, Joe Palsson, Christina Shockey, Melissa Winter, Trina Clayton, Alex Mae, Caroline Adler, Moralez and Maroon Halema Schol. And thanks to clean cut studio search party music, Tyler Leuchtenburg, Dylan, Rupert Carolynn, Lipka Young Creative Agency and Nazarian. Our theme music is by Stevie Wonder. Original music by Andy Coulson and Tilly Fresco. The song you heard at the beginning of this show is not for sale by Soudan Archives.


Thanks for listening to the Michelle Obama podcast.