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'She Is Who She Is': Read Tracee Ellis Ross' Beautiful Essay Honoring Michelle Obama

'She Is Who She Is': Read Tracee Ellis Ross' Beautiful Essay Honoring Michelle Obama Source: Instagram

Tracee Ellis Ross has penned an essay honoring former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama.

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An excerpt from the recently released book Courage Is Contagious, via Lenny Letter, Ross writes about Obama's impact on black women in America and how she played an integral part for how Ross portrays Rainbow Johnson on the ABC television series Black-ish.

"Mrs. Obama made room for my character, Rainbow Johnson. She validated a Rainbow Johnson for people who had never met a black woman with the revolutionary experience of being joyful," Ross wrote. "A black woman who is not only surviving but thriving. A black woman who is actually in love with her husband — not an image we usually see in American pop culture. A black woman who can be goofy and sexy, who can be smart and empowered and soft and lovable and vulnerable. Eight years of watching Michelle Obama as a person, not just relegated to doing 'woman things,' provided an antidote to all the false representations of black women that have inundated us for centuries — images that don't represent the reality, or the humanity, of who we are as black people."

"Part of what Mrs. Obama has encouraged in me is the strength within myself to be myself," Ross continued. "It's not the White House that made her who she is. She is who she is, and it's something we were reminded of time and again during her final year there. She said in her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, 'I wake up every morning in a house built by slaves.' She didn't deny the history of this country. Instead she acknowledged it, as if to emphasize how far we've come and how important it is for us to keep moving forward. In another speech, following the release of footage that captured Donald Trump talking about grabbing 'pussy,' she stood at the podium and said, with tears in her eyes, 'I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.' She named what so many people would not name, what so many other women were shamed out of naming. To have the First Lady of the United States stand up and name what was happening for all of us put the shame back where it belonged."