The Obamas Speak About Their Experiences With Racism: “I Think People Forget We’ve Lived In The White House For Six Years”

December 17, 2014  |  

In the latest issue of People magazine, Barack and Michelle Obama open up about their personal experiences with racism. According to Michelle, many people are under the impression that the two have somehow been shielded from dealing with prejudice in their everyday life—something that the first lady says is definitely not true. Check out a few highlights from their interview below

On people thinking they haven’t experienced racism,

Michelle: “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.”

On their experiences with racism,

Michelle: “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.”

Barack: “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.”

Michelle: “[One time] he was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”

On why we shouldn’t compare current racism to what was experienced during the civil rights era,

Barack: “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.”

For the first couple’s full interview, pick up the latest issue of People.

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