Was Michelle Obama really the victim of racism during her trip to Target? In extracts from an exclusive interview recorded by People magazine, Michelle Obama speaks candidly about racial stereotyping and the Obamas fears for their daughters.
During the interview, the first lady described how she was the victim of subtle racism during a trip to Target. The crime? A white woman asked her for help reaching some detergent on a high shelf.
“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.”
In the interview, the Obamas added their thoughts about racism following the tensions and publicity surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Mrs. Obama recalled an incident where her husband was “wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.” Despite this, the Obamas did agree that progress had been made with tackling racial prejudice.
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experience.”
Alluding to the stereotypical view of black teenagers, President Obama stated that “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.”
Although their current lifestyle affords them a certain level of security and protection from much racial prejudice, they still bear the scars of previous experiences.
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” Michelle Obama said. “Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 17, 2014
But was Michelle Obama’s Target shopping experience really an example of racism? Ben Shapiro from Truth Revolt doesn’t think so. In fact, when telling David Letterman about the same incident a couple of years ago, the first lady appeared to find the incident charming and sweet.
“I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”
Warming to the laughter of the audience, Michelle Obama continued to describe a rather normal and endearing human interaction.
“And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good… She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”
Irrespective of whether this incident demonstrates racial prejudice, Michelle Obama’s interpretation of the incident has changed dramatically in the space of a couple of years.
[Image: AP/Charles Dharapak]