Michelle Obama Addressed the Racism She Faced as First Lady
The former first lady recalled an incident involving her daughters Sasha and Malia.
Michelle Obama has opened up about the "exhausting" racism she experienced as first lady.
In a new episode of her podcast, The Michelle Obama Podcast, she sat down with friends Denielle Pemberton-Heard, Dr. Sharon Malone and Kelly Dibble, and recalled an incident involving her daughters Sasha and Malia when they went to get ice cream at a Haagen-Dazs during President Barack Obama's presidency.
"We had just finished taking the girls to a soccer game," she said. "We were stopping to get ice cream, and I had told the Secret Service to stand back because we were trying to be normal, trying to go in. There was a line, and once again, when I'm just a Black woman, I notice that white people don't even see me. They're not even looking at me. So I'm standing there with two little Black girls, another Black female adult, they're in soccer uniforms, and a white woman cuts right in front of us to order. Like she didn't even see us."
Obama said she spoke up before the cashier was about to take the woman's order.
"So I stepped up, and I said, 'Excuse me?' I was like, 'You don't see us four people standing right here, you just jumped in line?'" she said. "She didn't apologize, she never looked me in my eye, she didn't know it was me. All she saw was a Black person, or a group of Black people, or maybe she didn't even see that because we were that invisible."
The former first lady added, "What white folks don't understand, it's like that is so telling of how white America views people who are not like them. You know, we don't exist. And when we do exist, we exist as a threat. And that, that's exhausting."
The conversation was prompted by a discussion about Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the police on a Black bird watcher Christian Cooper in Central Park earlier this year.
"That incident in Central Park, which infuriated all of us, as we watched it, it was not unfamiliar," Obama said. "This is what the white community doesn't understand about being a person of color in this nation, is that there are daily slights. In our workplaces, where people talk over you, or people don't even see you."