Former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama recently opened up candidly about experiencing racism both in and out of White House. Speaking to her girl friends on the latest episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, she said that white people often treat people of color and blacks as invisible and despite being first lady, she too encountered such events.
There have been instances, “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,” said Michelle.
Recalling another incident where her daughters Malia and Sasha were also present, Mrs Obama said she had to take a stand and have her voice heard.
“We had just finished taking the girls to a soccer game. 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,” Michelle remembered.
“There was a line, and… 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. The girl behind the counter almost took her order. And I had to stand up ’cause I know Denielle was like, ‘Well, I’m not gonna cause a scene with Michelle Obama.’ So I stepped up and I said, ‘Excuse me? You don’t see us four people standing right here? You just jumped in line?'” the former first lady narrated the incident.
“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,” said Michelle.
While adding, “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.”
In attendance at the Michelle Obama Podcast that features on Spotify, were her friends Kelly Dibble, Denielle Pemberton-Heard, and Dr. Sharon Malone.