Michelle Obama’s Black Girls Rock Speech Is the Pep Talk You Needed

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama’s iBlack Girls Rock/i Speech Is the Pep Talk You Needed

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama graced the stage of BET’s Black Girls Rock on Sunday night to champion the accomplishments of three teen girls. For some, her words were problematic, but for others—like the other little black girls in the audience—all that mattered was that the first African-American FLOTUS was speaking directly to them.

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It was magical.

Here is an except of Mrs. Obama’s speech, from BET:

When I was a girl, I had parents that loved and believed in me, but those doubts still worked their way into my head. and I was always worried about something. Does my hair look right? Am I too tall? Do I raise my hand too much in class? So when folks said a girl like me shouldn’t aspire to go to the very best colleges in the country I thought ‘Maybe they’re right.’

But eventually I learned that each of those doubts were like a little test … that I could either shrink away from or rise up to meet and I decided to rise.

Yes, I decided to rewrite those tired old scripts that define too many of us. I decided that I wasn’t bossy, I was confident and strong. I wasn’t loud, I was a young woman with something important to say and when I looked in the mirror I say a tall, beautiful and smart black girl. … and that’s what I want for you, I want you to live life on your own terms. … but anyone who’s achieved anything in life knows that challenges and failures are necessary components of success. They know that when things get hard, that’s not always a sign that you’re doing some thing wrong, that’s often a sign that you’re doing something right. Those hard times are what shape you into the person you’re meant to be.

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I don’t know about you, but I feel like I can take on the world now… and I’m going to get back to speed-reading Mrs. Obama’s forthcoming biography that hits shelves on Tuesday, April 7.

Elsewhere during Black Girls Rock, Sheila E. beat out your favorite kareoke song “The Glamorous Life” and Erykah Badu was her loveable weirdo self during a rendition of “Soldier” and “Master Teacher.”

Image via BET.


Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.

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DISCUSSION

This is going to be a strong sentiment but here goes.

Fuck anyone talking about that “allgirlrock” nonsense. Fuck each and every one of you. I’m black and days away from my 35th birthday. I was told in 2nd grade that “black people don’t read as well as you so you must not be fully black.” That was by my TEACHER. Again, in high school I was told by my guidance counselor that I should think about maybe taking courses that were tailored to my grade level instead of my advanced abilities because it might make the rest of the students feel inadequate. I mean, we can’t have all the other white kids feeling inadequate with this extra smart black chick around.

THIS is the shit I dealt with growing up. While white girls and Asian girls and mixed girls and virtually every other type of girls were being told they were worthy and enough by simply existing by anyone with a pulse, black girls were struggling to just fucking BE. Be smart. Be children. Be encouraged. Be gifted. Just. Fucking. Be.

So if your little feelings are hurt by ONE fucking celebration that tells black girls that they are worthy. They are talented. They CAN do it and it’s OKAY to do so? I have no words for you other than these two...

Fuck. You.