The LBPH Talking Books Book Club read the new autobiography Becoming by Michelle Obama.
The former First Lady details her experience growing up in the South Side of Chicago, her passion for the pursuit of success and education, her experiences at Princeton as a person of color coming from a very different background as many of her classmates, and into her adult life: becoming a professional woman and navigating different job opportunities and searching for satisfaction in the fast paced lifestyle of high-achievers, her romance with the thoughtful, philosophical writer Barack Obama, child rearing, campaigning, and, well, the rest is American History.
This was a long and meaty book to cover in our 1 hour club, but as usual, our patrons came prepared with thoughtful contributions and reflections from their own experiences to share.
Something that Michelle claimed was integral to her college experience was the “Third World Center” at Princeton, which she reflected was “poorly named but well intentioned”—it has since been renamed. It was a center for minorities on campus to find community and companionship amidst their largely white (91%) and male (70%) classmates.
This sparked discussion for our patrons, who shared their own experiences going to college with disabilities and the challenges they encountered compared to their sighted classmates. Issues like finding ones way around campus, to the cafeteria, or to class took more than just reading a map. One of our patrons had family come to visit to show the student around their own campus to learn their way around, early into their first semester. Another person said, “I would have felt less like a fish out of water in a disability group to trade insights on the art of being different at college”.
Michelle’s father, a huge influence and role model in her life, lived with Multiple Sclerosis throughout her childhood into her adulthood. Our patrons muse that her experience growing up with a parent with a disability had an influence on her path to becoming a person with deep compassion and empathy.
You can find clips of our patrons sharing these thoughts on the Carnegie Library Instagram by clicking here.