There won’t be an Obama Act II in the White House. At least, not in the immediate future, as Michelle Obama related today at the 2018 United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorum in Los Angeles.
The two-day gathering featured panels, breakouts, exhibits and discussions focused on empowering women and helping to change the conditions that limit full social, economic and workplace opportunity for them.
Obama’s well-received appearance capped the first conference day after a long pre-show of various activists, business people and cause advocates outlined a path forward for attendees.
The former First Lady mostly fielded softball questions from moderator Tracee Ellis Ross, the Blackish star and a longtime friend of Obama. But there were several moments that touched on some interesting tidbits, mostly on the rumors that Democrats may look toward Michelle Obama as a viable 2020 presidential candidate.
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“When I hear people say, ‘You run…. we still didn’t get ‘Yes, We Can.’ Until we get that right, it doesn’t matter who runs,” Obama told Ellis Ross. “I don’t think I’m any different from Hillary. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we’re focused on the who. Because we’re the who. We’re the answer to our own problems and its not finding the one great person to save us from ourselves. It’s us.”
Obama expressed dismay that women didn’t offer more support in the 2016 elections for the female candidate, Hillary Clinton.
“I’m concerned about us women, on how we think about ourselves and each other,” Obama said. “What is going on in our heads where we let that (President Donald Trump’s election) happen? So I do wonder what are young girls dreaming about, when the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did instead. That said something about where we’re at. If we as women are still suspicious about each other, if we still have this crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men – if we’re not comfortable with the notion that we can have a woman for president, compared to what? We need to have that conversation.”
Other Michelle Obama observations:
Asked what inspired her voice: “I was fortunate enough to have parents who appreciated my opinions and my voice from an early age,” she said. “Ask your child questions and hear their opinions.” Obama noted standing up for her grandmother at age four, when she was being berated by her grandfather. “I felt like I had to stand up for my grandmother. She was more traditional. I couldn’t stand by even at four and watch her be yelled at for no reasons. And my parents supported that.”
Something specific someone said that helped her become the woman she is today: “It’s never one thing. It’s many things. Kids know when you’re not being invested, they know when they are labeled a bad kid early. Kids know when someone cares about them.
Where can find interest if parents aren’t invested: “You gotta find it wherever you can,” she said. “All it takes is one good person. So for the young people, find those folks. Maybe they’re at church, maybe one of those teachers. People are always looking for the good kids.”
You have to practice: “You have to surround yourself with the people that you want to be. Life is practice. You’re practicing who you are going to be. So if you get up late and not getting your homework done, you’re practicing that. Practice who you want to be every single day. Find that role model somewhere out there. Even if you read it in a book.”
Are young girls doing things differently than when she was young: “I still think our girls are taught to be perfect. They still dream of weddings and the security of Prince Charming. We’re working on it. I wish that girls could fail as bad as men do and be okay. Watching men fail up is frustrating, to see a lot of men blowing it and win. And we hold ourselves to these crazy, crazy standards. If we want our daughters to dream bigger than we did, we have more work to do. We’re gotten ourselves to the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake things up. Now we have to take some risks.”
The conference continues tomorrow and takes place in various parts of Los Angeles. The schedule of events is at the organization’s web site, theunitedstateofwomen.org.
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