Nationwide — Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, which sold over 1.4 million copies in its first week of release, has inspired many Black women all over the world. Having been inspired by the book herself, Lauren Christine Mims, a former assistant director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, chose Becoming to be a curriculum for Black girls to enhance their learning and development.
Lauren Christine Mims, who will soon earn her Ph.D. of Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia, is just one of the many who have been captivated by Obama’s best-selling memoir.
“Reading Becoming was like sitting on the couch with your best friend and having one of those soulful conversations about life,” Mims told Black Enterprise. “Reading about how Michelle Obama felt unchallenged in elementary school, teased for the way she spoke, and noticed a difference in how she was perceived during adolescence was affirming.”
Upon reading it, Mims realized the impact the book could be able to give on black girls who were striving to find their place in the challenging world. Along with her doctoral research about young, black girls in school, she decided to turn Becoming into a curriculum to further black girls’ learning and development.
“I disrupt the traditional practice of talking about black girls in pejorative ways and center them and their unique experiences to study how we can support them. For example, my research highlights what ‘Black Girl Magic’ means to black girls; the role teachers play in supporting or stopping the success of black girls; and more about what they are learning and how it makes them feel,” she said.
The curriculum would include reading Becoming, watching films with black girls as the lead role, and participating in “important conversations, like about what it means to feel like your presence is a threat or that you do not belong. We will discuss Maddie Whitsett and McKenzie Nicole Adams; two 9-year old black girls who died by suicide after being subjected to bullying. At the end of the course, students will apply their knowledge to draft new research proposals, policies, and practices,” Mims said.
Additionally, Mims stated four ways on how we can all support the development of Black girls:
* Create supportive, affirming, and loving environments by listening to their needs and centering their unique experiences of Becoming;
* Advocate for, adopt, and enforce school policies and accountability practices that recognize the brilliance of black girls and ensure they are not being pushed out of school.
* Address the bullying, harassment, and discrimination of black girls and ensure that all students have access to mental healthcare;
* Care for your own mental health and well-being.
Moreover, Mims believes and she wants young black girls to believe that they are enough and they can flourish in a world despite its attempts to deny their humanity.
As told by Michelle Obama herself, “Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim,” yet there is so much pressure in college to define your identity and pick a career path. It can take a toll on you. Know that you are brilliant and never “underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”