The former First Lady and President of the United States are explaining why community is more important than ever. On the premiere episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, the acclaimed author invited her husband, Barack Obama, to be her very first guest. Over the course of their conversation, they stressed the importance of community amid the ongoing pandemic and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd.
"Part of what I hope that listeners take away from this conversation is not that we have the answers, but these kinds of conversations need to happen around our dinner tables and in our smaller communities for us to just sort of understand and to appreciate the importance that community plays on who we are," Michelle explained in the episode. The former FLOTUS believes that a culture of "we" — versus "me" or "I" — is what's needed to move the United States forward in a positive direction.
As she told her husband, "It is much more hopeful, it is much more gratifying, much more effective to live this life as a 'we'. And I think as young people listen to this, as they are starting to shape their paths, I would really strongly encourage them to think about building lives that are self-less."
Barack and Michelle have always been passionate about bringing communities together, so much so they both became community organizers early on in their lives. Even the Obama Foundation's mission states that the organization aims "to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world." And, as such, the Becoming author felt that community would be the perfect topic to kick off her new podcast.
On Instagram, she specifically expanded on why she chose to discuss community with President Obama. "I wanted to start this season off by discussing a relationship that a lot of us are spending a lot of time thinking about right now and that’s our relationship with our community and our country," she wrote. "Given everything that’s going on in the world, I think that these days, a lot of people are questioning just where and how they can fit into a community."
The President echoed Michelle's sentiments during their conversation, pointing out that "we can't build infrastructure by ourselves, we can't deal with a pandemic ourselves." In other words: it's less about an individual's responsibility to themselves, so much as their responsibility to others. As he explained, while bringing up Black Lives Matter and Floyd (an injustice both he and Michelle have commented on before), "Everybody benefits from their ability to advocate, to make sure the resources are coming in. That whole process of lifting all boats comes about from this network of relationships in a community."
And building that community comes through only one thing: conversation. As Michelle stressed in her Instagram post, what she really wants is for everyone to go "through the process of reflecting and reaching out to loved ones to talk through what you’re feeling and what you’re hoping for." She continued, "And if enough of us can do that — and if enough of us can empathize with one another — then over time — and it will take a long time, we can come up with some solutions and create the change we're all hoping for."