Michelle Obama has spoken before about the trials and tribulations she and her family faced after becoming the first African-American family to inhabit the White House, with Barack Obama as America’s first black president.
But in new revelations, which the first lady made in a recent interview with People magazine, racism has been a reality for the Obamas no less than any other victim of racism in America.
As Michelle Obama told the publication an example regarding a trip she took to a Target store soon after assuming her prestigious position,
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs. I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”
During the interview, Barack and Michelle Obama spoke candidly about racial issues and racial profiling, alluding to the summer shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, as well as that of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
For his part, President Obama spoke about how being black affected him in his life, “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” adding that it had happened to him.
In recalling another similar incident, Michelle Obama shared that one night she was with her husband at a black-tie dinner, “He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”
In concluding the interview, President Obama said that, despite incidents of subtle racism that happened to him and his family, they were nothing compared to what previous generations had to endure,
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.”