Michelle Obama Opens Up About Experiencing Racism & Its Effects
The first black first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama shares her experience with racism and feeling “invisible” during her eight years serving.
Michelle Obama was the first lady of the United States (FLOTUS) for eight years. During that time, the former FLOTUS says she was the subject of several racially motivated aggressions.
The fIfty-six-year-old author and podcast host has been open in sharing her experience as being a black woman in the White House, and the first black FLOTUS at that. In an episode on her podcast, she recounts some of her experiences and highlights the significance of friendship.
Obama Recounts Racist Incident
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Unfortunately, Obama explained that she could tell "a number of stories like that" where she has been treated as if she were invisible, despite being the First Lady.
"When I've been completely incognito during the eight years in the White House, walking the dogs on the canal, people will come up and pet my dogs, but will not look me in the eye. They don't know it's me. That is so telling of how white America views people who are not like them like we don't exist. And when we do exist, we exist as a threat. And that's exhausting."
Obama Shares How Racism Made Her Feel
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When Obama gave the commencement address at Tuskegee University in Alabama, the reflection on the hurdles the black soldiers faced led her to tell the school’s graduating class that she struggled with how the country first perceived her as a black First Lady.
“And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.’ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama.’ And all of this used to really get to me. Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about what people thought of me.”
The Former FLOTUS Describes Feelings “Isolation”
Obama recalls another instance where she says a white woman cut in front of her and the girls (referring to her two daughters) in a line for ice cream. She adds that these instances of disregard occurred often during her years as FLOTUS.
Michelle’s Support System
In a podcast, the former FLOTUS details more of her experiences with racism with a few of her long time friends. As a black woman living in the US, Obama also stressed the significance of having Black women in her life who she can turn on.
"My girlfriend group, while it is diverse, it has been so important for me to have Black women in my crew. There's just a certain relief that comes when you don't have to walk into your friend group and explain yourself."