Dear Michelle Obama,
My name is Christine Anu. I come from humble beginnings in the Torres Strait Islands, located off the top of North Queensland, Australia. Growing up we survived on fish, mango and damper. We had no electricity or money and there was a housing shortage. Domestic violence was rife and there were little to no opportunities for Indigenous women.
Through determination instilled in me by my mother, I broke that cycle to forge a successful career in the Australian entertainment industry spanning more than two decades. As a black woman growing up in Australia, there were very few role models to look up to who had broken every mould. But it’s 2017 and we have been gifted you.
You have left a legacy that I don’t think will be matched in my lifetime. I am 47 years old with a successful career and two beautiful children yet I find myself looking to you as my role model. Not as First Lady, but as an independent woman, a working mother, a black woman, a leader, a wife and businesswoman.
As a black woman who has spent her life fighting for equality in a predominantly white society, I watched in awe as you entered the White House, curious as to how the first black first lady would overcome the racism and vitriol hurled at you through the election campaign. With class, sass, style and a sense of humour, that’s how!
You took ownership of this role with no job description and you made it your own, tackling the social issues you knew needed addressing. I remember one afternoon I caught my teenage daughter in the kitchen making a salad. A salad. It was unprecedented and quite frankly, I was worried. “Why a salad?” I asked without trying to scare her off. Because she had seen you talking about the importance of healthy eating. That’s when I truly understood the impact you and your initiatives were having on a global scale.
And your influence has gone beyond race, beyond gender, beyond age. I once caught the men in my circle talking about how ‘cool’ you were after they’d seen you kick Ellen’s butt in a push-up competition. You brought muscle and style to the table. I can’t think of any other first lady I’ve heard men even talk about.