It seems like Michelle Obama always knows what we need before we realize it ourselves. Although she denies the claims of being a politician, there is no question that she is a fierce warrior for all that is right. Whether it’s promoting health, higher education or the empowerment of young girls, Michelle Obama’s impact on the U.S. is both tangible and impressive. It is within the country’s best interest to tune in and learn from her wise words, and this month provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Once again, giving us what we need before we realize we needed it, the former first lady debuted her new podcast, the “Michelle Obama Podcast.”
Even before the first episode was released on July 29, the idea of putting in my headphones and listening to Michelle Obama dive into the complex topics of our world today sounded like a dream come true — a burst of clarity amid the tangled thoughts everyone seems to be dealing with recently. The trailer for the “Michelle Obama Podcast” promises a space for acceptance, thoughtfulness and a discussion of our proximity to positive change.
“My hope is that this podcast can be a place for us to explore big topics together. A place to sort through the questions that we’re all trying to answer. A place to open up and be a little vulnerable and have some fun along the way,” she says in the short trailer. “What we’re really talking about is our place in this world, what we can do about it and the power we have.”
As if her trailer alone isn’t enticing enough, she ensures that her podcast starts with a bang. Her first guest is the 44th president of the United States and her husband, Barack Obama.
From the start of their conversation, the pair’s chemistry is undeniable. Just three words into the “Michelle Obama Podcast” and Barack Obama begins giggling, if you can call the deep sound a giggle. This immediate hint of humor between the two sets a lighthearted tone for the rest of the episode, and it reminds listeners of their loving relationship as not only husband and wife, but also as friends.
However, along with their jokes, the Obamas get real. The pair start off by delving deep into the topic of community and unity. Michelle explains that it wasn’t until she was older that she realized so much of who you are is shaped by your upbringing.
While Michelle grew up in a more typical nuclear family, Barack was raised by a single mom. Despite these differences, both remember the structures within their communities — their grandparents, their neighbors, the school moms — that made sure they were always taken care of.
Because they were raised with similar values, the Obamas agree that growing up in a place where everyone’s families helped raise the children of others led to their shared drive to look out for all members of their community.
“If something good happened to you, you didn’t hold onto it, you didn’t hoard it,” Michelle reminisces about the expectation of love, support and lack of greed she experienced as a kid.
She then directs her words toward Barack: “The reason I fell in love with you is because you stick to the values that we are our brother and sisters’ keepers.”
“It wasn’t just my good looks?” he responds, paired with another deep giggle that lets anyone listening know that he feels the same way about Michelle.
He then takes on a more serious tone, segueing the conversation from the smaller communities of his past, into the broader community of country. He critiques the current mindset of the nation, saying that politics have become too individualistic. So many make decisions and cast votes to protect themselves rather than looking out for the good of others.
Michelle agrees that times have changed. Calling it a “dog eat dog world.” She explains how people tend to focus on their own success, even at the expense of fellow Americans.
But just as she refers to Barack as the “eternal optimist” and the “Yes We Can Man,” the former president interrupts the critique with a sense of hope.
“Look, the good news is that everybody is feeling this uncertainty, this anxiety, this sense that what we’ve been doing isn’t working the way it should,” he explains. He returns to the values of his own childhood, explaining that the younger generations today can learn from both the successes and mistakes of the past.
“This time let’s do it in a way that genuinely includes everybody. Go back to that basic insight and just widen it,” says Barack. “Take the blinders of racism and sexism and homophobia and all those things off, and say, ‘our tribe is everybody.’”
Michelle agrees, as her husband speaks of a world that engages in intentional inclusivity rather than mere disengaged acceptance. The topic seems to be one that the pair discusses and hopes for often.
“How beautiful and safe and stabilizing it feels when we all have each other to lean on. That we don’t have to hold this big gigantic thing by ourselves,” she responds. “We are not built to do this thing called life in a vacuum.”
The couple’s viewpoint is nothing new. From the beginning of their time in the White House, both have worked to uphold their standard of “If they go low, we go high.” However, the conversation is a necessary reminder for anyone who is struggling with their political views to reconsider their values and to place importance on their relationship with their community.
The message of the “Michelle Obama Podcast” is clear: The only thing that can change the current political climate is putting others before yourself. She encourages her listeners to implement these thoughts and conversations into their daily lives. And while they may not be as entertaining as sitting down with a former president, or the podcast’s next guest, American journalist Michele Norris, they will certainly be the reminder you didn’t know you needed.