Michelle Obama, 57, doesn’t want people to “harden [themselves] against the outside world” amid the racial injustices still happening in the world. Instead, the former First Lady of the United States called on Black creators and artists to bare “their truest selves” and share their “stories” amid the ongoing fight against racism, which she condemned in the YouTube Originals special for Black History Month called Black Renaissance: The Art and Soul of Our Stories that premiered on Feb. 26. You can watch Michelle’s segment above, which starts shortly after the 1:13 mark.
— YouTube (@YouTube) February 26, 2021
“Your generation knows all too well that those old fault lines of fear, racism and discrimination based on the color of your skin weren’t erased by a civil war or the passing of the Civil Rights Act and certainly the election of a Black president,” Michelle said towards the beginning of her powerful statement. “You’ve seen too much, too much hate in the news and in your social media feeds, too many torches burning and racist flags waving, too many Black folks shot cold or choked out, too many folks ransacking the very center of our democracy. And too often, this behavior goes unchecked and unpunished, leaving us with the sad realization that in America, liberty, justice, and accountability are not for all, and it all leaves a pit in your stomach.”
“It courses through your nerves the minute you step out the door, and it feels like a threat not just to our country or even to our rights but to us, to our safety, to our lives,” the attorney, who was also the first Black woman to be the First Lady of the United States, continued. “And when you’re faced with all of that, the natural response is to want to turn inward, to harden yourselves against the outside world. Look, I understand that instinct. Believe me, I do.”Michelle then made her call to action: “But I’e also learned that shutting everything out is only a temporary fix. And you and me? We need something that lasts. In politics, yes, we’ve gotta participate, we’ve gotta vote, but even more than that, we need something that allows us to live fully and freely to be who we are every second of every day. And that means we gotta let people in, into our stories, into our experiences, into our hopes and our fears and our rawest vulnerabilities. We gotta talk it out. We gotta write it out, rhyme it out, sing it out, shout it out and do it all with all the sweetness and hope and frustration and joy and celebration that makes us who we are….we’ve gotta share it with everybody, because that’s how we help people see the truth of who we are.”
Black leaders, artists, and change-makers have shaped our culture since this country’s founding. Their contributions are so powerful, and I hope you'll join me in celebrating their legacies in #BlackRenaissance.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 26, 2021
For Michelle, this is “what the Black Renaissance is all about.” She elaborated, “All the creators and artists who by baring their truest selves are shining their light out wider out on to all of our stories, illuminating all their beauty and their pain so that as a community, as a country, we can find our way through this world together.”
Michelle’s husband and the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, also joined the Black Renaissance YouTube special which you can watch in full above. Many Black celebrities also made appearances or performed in the special, like Kelly Rowland, H.E.R. and Anderson .Paak.