The 2017 BET Awards have enjoyed many much-publicized special guests. Solange is there. Chance The Rapper is there. Saturday Night Live queen Leslie Jones is even hosting. But, no one could have prepared viewers for the night’s biggest surprise guest: the one, the only, Michelle Obama. The beloved former First Lady appeared via video message to congratulate fellow Chicago native Chance for his BET Humanitarian Award. Nothing could have been more refreshing.
Chance’s win was celebrated with a video of his celebrity friends waxing poetic on the Best New Artist winner’s many charitable accomplishments in his hometown and his organization, SocialWorks. As I watched handsome woke baes Common and Jesse Williams describe how the "No Problem" performer has given back to his community to the tune of millions of dollars, I wondered why none of the women who are close to Chance were featured in the package as well. Surely, at least one person with two X chromosomes has something to say. As if BET Networks CEO Debra Lee heard my feminist indignation, she introduced the surprise guest, "very special lady" Michelle Obama in a gorgeous asymmetrical shoulder gown. Instantly, all of us remembered just how much we miss Mrs. Obama.
"Barack and I are so sorry we couldn’t be there tonight in person. But, please know that we are with you in spirit. And we are so incredibly proud of you, Chance. We have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper and it has been a thrill watching him come into his own in so many ways. In addition to making some really amazing music, Chance has been taking that big, bright spotlight that follows him around, and he’s shining it on young people in our hometown of Chicago," she rhapsodized on video from a perfectly designed mystery room.
"Time and again he has been standing up, speaking out, and doing the work to get kids in our community the educations they deserve. And with these passionate efforts, Chance is showing our young people that they matter. That they have something inside of them that is worthy of being expressed and they have so much to contribute to their communities and to our country. Chance, you are an outstanding role model and an inspiration to all of us who care about our next generation. Because of you, countless young people will grow up believing in themselves, fulfilling their God given potential and then reaching back and lifting up other people along the way. I can think of no better legacy to leave, and I am thrilled to celebrate you here tonight and honored to call you my friend. Thanks so much for everything you do, congratulations, and God bless."
After an emotional dedication like that, it’s no surprise Chance was tearing up when the cameras panned to his seat. Thank you BET for reminding all of us that no matter how tense the American political atmosphere can feel, Michelle Obama will always be our "forever First Lady."
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