Michelle Obama: Black Americans Not Voting in 2016 was a ‘Slap in the Face’

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Former First Lady Michelle Obama talks to the audience at the Reach Higher Initiative Beating the Odds Summit to support first-generation college-bound students on June 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Former first lady Michelle Obama says in her upcoming Netflix documentary Becoming that it was a “slap in the face’’ that black Americans failed to show up to vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to the New York Post.

“It takes some energy to go high, and we were exhausted from it … when you’re the first black anything,’’ Obama said, referring to her and her husband, former President Barack Obama, of their failed efforts to help elect then-Democrat White House nominee Hillary Clinton.

“You know, the day I left the White House, it was painful to sit on that stage, and then a lot of our folks didn’t vote — it was almost a slap in the face,” the former first lady added.

“It wasn’t just in this election, but every midterm, every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up,” she said during another point in the film. “After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. That’s my trauma.”

During the highly-anticipated documentary, Obama also shoots down the prospect of returning to politics — even as calls grow for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, to select the former first lady as his running mate.

“Now we’re out of the White House, not to be viewed, judged and parceled by every other person on the planet — yeah, it’s better, it’s absolutely freeing,’’ said Obama. “Being the first lady has been the greatest honor of my life. But how many people are in that position where the entire attention of everything is you, every gesture you make, every blink of an eye is being analyzed?

“Barack and I are not interested in being at the forefront forever — not even for that much longer,’’ she added

The film, described as “an intimate look into the life of former first lady Michelle Obama” chronicles her 34-city book tour in 2018-2019 for her best-selling memoir “Becoming.” Obama’s promotional tour, managed by the concert promoter Live Nation, had the scale of a rock tour, with a string of dates at sold-out arenas.

The film will debut May 6 on Netflix. In a statement, Obama said the experience of the tour “drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with.”

“We processed the past and imagined a better future. In talking about the idea of ‘becoming,’ many of us dared to say our hopes out loud,” said Obama. “I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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