A modern American president lives in a bubble of security, mostly shielded from the rest of the country. But that doesn’t protect the Obamas from racism, the First Lady says in an exclusive interview with People magazine.
“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,” Michelle Obama says. “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.”
As president, they now travel in limousines, helicopters and have unlimited access to an Air Force 747. But the Obamas say it wasn’t always this easy for them to move from place to place.
“Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Michelle Obama tells People. “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,” Barack Obama adds.
However, the president notes race relations are getting better.
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” Obama says. But more improvement is needed. “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,” he concluded.
The entire interview will be published in People magazine later this week.