In an interview with People out today, the President and First Lady discuss their own experiences with racism in light of our current "national discussion of race and racial profiling." Michelle says, "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."
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 adds, "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."
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.
The rest of the interview, which covers raising the Obama girls and "what's on the POTUS dance party playlist," is out in print today.
[Photo via Getty]