Barack and Michelle Obama shared about being the victims of racism in America with People Magazine this week.
Michelle was even asked to help a woman reach for something on a shelf at Target.
It was horrific.
This discussion was necessary after the grand jury decisions on Michael Brown and Eric Garner that had nothing to do with racism.
The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” the first lady told PEOPLE, laughing wryly, along with her husband, at the assumption that the first family has been largely insulated from coming face-to-face with racism.
“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of PEOPLE.
“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 a 30-minute conversation, the president and Mrs. Obama candidly added their stories to the national discussion of race and racial profiling that was sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
“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,” said the president, adding that, yes, it had happened to him.
Mrs. Obama recalled another incident: “He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”
They’re victims, too.
This man will always be a divider. And America will be worse because of it.
UPDATE: How pathetic.
Michelle Obama lied about the incident.
As Ben Shapiro notes, Michelle had a different spin on that same incident a few years ago. She told David Letterman:
“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. And the only thing she said — I reached up, because 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.”