(CNN) — I still pinch myself every time I see her. I still well up with tears every time she walks into a room. I stand taller, with a smile, every time she delivers a passionate speech about her deep love for her country or her commitment to the families of our military. I have had the privilege of sitting with her in the White House kitchen garden tasting honey and apples, interviewing her about her new book, and I have been blessed to laugh with her during the Christmas holidays as the White House photographer snapped our picture with the president.
But I still find it hard to believe that my first lady is a woman of color: a strong, beautiful, accomplished black woman. Michelle Obama is elegant, educated, and full of grace. But what makes her so special is that she is still a down-to-earth “sister girl” raised in Chicago’s Southside.
On Tuesday night she told America, and the world, her story. But what she did for millions of black women and girls here, and around the globe, was humanize us. She softened us. She made us part of the American fabric in a way no one else ever could. Without ever uttering a word about race in her speech, Obama’s very presence on the world stage — her arms well-defined, her dress fierce, her hair shiny-silky with a flip curl to boot — made us no longer invisible.
The first lady’s presence and poise were captivating in a way that brought forth our pained history and our powerful triumph as black women: Just by being Michelle, she most emphatically answers Sojourner Truth’s 160-year-old question, “Ain’t I a woman?”
Yes, we are women too!
She effortlessly destroyed harsh stereotypes about who black women are, and made us something we rarely ever get to be in public: feminine, soft, vulnerable, loving, warm, proud, compassionate, smart, affirmed, dynamic, bold, reflective, humble, and fun all at once.
And she touched us with stories about growing up with a dad who had multiple sclerosis and struggled to walk up the stairs to hug his children, and what she has learned living with the president of the United States.
She connected with men, women, black, white, yellow and red.
If you are looking for a political analysis, here is one: Michelle Obama hit a home run last night for the Democratic Party. But she also hit a home run for America.
As first lady of the United States, she represents everyone. She did not have to mention race, nor need to: Her very essence reminds us that she is a powerful, brilliant black woman. What is a game changer for America is that this country, with all of its challenges and “isms,” embraces her as its first lady. Television pundits have called her the most popular woman in America. Americans do not define her as the fist-bumping, machine gun-toting, Afro-wearing angry black woman she was once portrayed as in 2008.
Michelle Obama has changed the game for women of color, and redefined what is possible for black women.
She has it all. She has a good man. She has a family. She is healthy, fit, and well-balanced. She loves the Lord. She takes care of her mom like any good daughter would. She embraces fidelity and loyalty and has a deep and abiding love for her man. She models for us what it means to be a truly successful woman.
A good neighbor.
And most importantly, she models what it means to be a great American.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sophia A. Nelson.
By Sophia A. Nelson
Editor’s note: Editor’s note: Sophia A. Nelson is a columnist and political analyst. She is the author of “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama.”
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