The first Black president and the first Black principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater had a lot to say about their shared experiences, as well as the realities of being prominent Black people in professions and a country where they have endured a level of scrutiny that isn’t quite the same for people of other races.
You can read the transcript in full and see videos from their conversation with Time’s Maya Rhodan here. In the meantime, here are our five favorite quotes from the interview:
5. You know, being the only African American at this level in American Ballet Theater, I feel like people are looking at me, and it’s my responsibility for me to do whatever I can to provide these opportunities in communities to be able to educate them. And if that means having a program just for Black dancers to allow them to have the same opportunity that generations and generations of White dancers have had, [affirmative action is] necessary.”—Misty Copeland
4. “Well social media obviously is the way in which young people are receiving information in general. So the power of young activists to help shape color and politics through things like Black Lives Matter, which I think is hugely important. And when I think about the journey I’ve traveled, there’s no doubt that young African American, Latino, Asian, LGBT youth, they have more role models. They have more folks that they can immediately identify with.”—Barack Obama
3. “But to have movements like Black Girl Magic, I think it couldn’t be more positive for a young Black girl to see that it’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to not have to transform and look like what you may see on the cover of a lot of magazines. That you are beautiful, that it’s possible to succeed in any field that you want to, looking the way that you do. With your hair the way it is.”—Misty Copeland
2. “I mean when you’re a dad of two daughters you notice more. When I was a kid I didn’t realize as much, or maybe it was even a part of which is the enormous pressure that young women are placed under in terms of looking a certain way. And being cute in a certain way. And are you wearing the right clothes? And is your hair done the right way. And that pressure I think is [sic] historically always been harder on African-American women than just about any other women.”—Barack Obama
1. “I think that being African American has definitely been a huge obstacle for me. But it’s also allowed me to have this fire inside of me that I don’t know if I would have or have had if I weren’t in this field.”—Misty Copeland
Did we miss your favorite parts? Let us know what they are in the comments.