What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway

Target Michelle

The current People Magazine has a feature titled “The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” in which both Obama’s reflect on their personal experiences with a racist America. It begins like this…

“The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.”

Here is a relatively recent experience, the first one cited by Mrs. Obama in the article, that “stung”:

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the First Lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target [in 2012], 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.” 

That’s right, Michelle feels—or says she feels—that this incident was proof of incipient racism, one of the “micro-aggressions” that white society inflicts on African Americans daily, sapping their self-esteem, confidence, and trust in society.

She’s right that it “happens in life” and isn’t new. In fact, it happened to me, in the local Target, coincidentally, just last month. A very short elderly Asian woman asked if I would take down a large container of laundry detergent from a high shelf. Obviously, she thought I worked at Target and was denigrating me, applying racial stereotypes to a large bald Greek-American man.

I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that what happened to Michelle at Target was not an incident of racial stereotyping. The photo above shows how Michelle was dressed on the fateful day, and anyone who would mistake her flowered blouse, Nike hat, shades and shopping cart as the uniform of a Target employee had recently escaped from a Home for the Bewildered. What wasn’t new about the encounter is that in a healthy, ethical community strangers should ask each other for kindly help and assistance, and normal, non-paranoid, non race-obsessed citizens—and especially their leaders, who are supposed to model responsible  behavior— ought not to be so warped by ideologically-dictated confirmation bias that their immediate reaction is, “Hmmmm…what did she mean by that?”

It as not as if the woman walked up to Michelle and asked her if she knew anything “about birthin’ babies,” or, as Sammy Davis, Jr. used to do on “Laugh-In,”Do the name Ruby Begonia ring a bell?” She asked a taller fellow shopper to do her a favor, little realizing that her innocent act would be turned into proof of America’s racial hostility. That is because the un-named shopper, unlike Michelle Obama, is not inherently suspicious of other races. Thanks to the endless stream of signals emanating from the Obama Administration, however, African Americans are less trusting of whites than they have been for decades.

Do you believe that the attitude Michelle displayed in “People” hasn’t contributed to this? She just showed her admirers that it is justifiable and rational to interpret any interaction with white people as evidence of racial animus. Meanwhile, any white citizen who reads the article and later is tempted to treat an African-American citizen like, you know, anyone else, by asking for help in a Target, will hesitate and perhaps avoid exactly the kind of benign, friendly, daily interaction that builds trust and comity between races. Last night, in fact, seeking batteries at a Target for my Christmas window decorations, I asked an African-American woman, with two small children in tow, if she knew where I could locate them. I hadn’t read the People piece then, though: now I know that she thought I was a racist, harkening back to the days of slavery.

Michelle Obama’s tale may be even worse than it seems, and to me it seems very wrong already. Newsbusters found a video clip from 2012 in which Michelle represented that same incident to David Letterman as a charming anecdote that showed how she was treated like any other shopper. This suggests, sadly, that Mrs. Obama knew that the incident was benign and had nothing to do with race, but now, with racial tensions over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner giving convenient traction to civil rights activist claims of rampant racism, she is repackaging the story to join the march…and, of course, to energize the base,

If so, it doesn’t repackage well, and is just one more indication of why the primary legacy of the Obama Presidency is likely to be that it sent U.S. race relations reeling backward by decades, to the benefit of no one except the despicable politicians who seek an eternally divided nation.


Facts: People Magazine

Sources: Newsbusters, Just One Minute

69 thoughts on “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway

  1. I get asked to help get stuff off shelves all the time. I’m so sick of people presuming that because I’m a human being and a member of the community that I might be willing to help them. Sick of it.

        • The idea of language is to communicate ideas, concepts and describe concrete objects. Therefore, “ahold of it” will work just fine, at least for me. I assume that if the objects are made of wood rather than concrete, they either do not need describing or do not warrant it.

    • If you ask a black person, you’re racist. If you avoid asking a black person because their black, you’re a racist. See what we’re getting at here…

      • It does explain a lot, though. If a white person asking a black person to help her is racist, no wonder it is assumed that a white person shooting a black person, even one who is charging him after trying to take control of his gun, is racist. Makes perfect sense. And this is, in fact, the reasoning Michelle Obama is nurturing.

          • I read it. Let me save everyone else the time: It doesn’t matter what the facts are, how they feel about it was really matters, because we can’t actually know for 100% certain what the other person was thinking.

            That’s pretty much the gist of the article. He makes some concession that maybe it wasn’t racist, then says maybe it was, we can’t know, and then goes onto a tangent about subconscious bias.

            If you interpret every interaction with society that could even remotely have a racist component as if was racist, it’s not society with the problem. In a more general sense, interpreting every interaction in the most negative way possible is not a good way to go through life, but I know people who seem to live that way.

            • I just read it. I was afraid of that. It reeks of the “It’s For a Good Cause” rationalization. So long as it raises awareness of racism, it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. At least, that’s what I’m pretty sure Mr. Blow would attest if he’d addressed the Letterman interview at all in the piece.

            • Here’s the concerning trend- leftists have consistently gotten away with their feelings based worldview for a long time because it hasn’t been called out. Lately, I’ve notice more erudite arguments against the left that clearly disassembles their flawed conclusions based solely on the emotion.

              As a response, I’ve generally noticed now that the lefties merely embrace emotionalism as a “fair” rationale. Hey, if we can’t defend against it, let’s pretend like it’s always been a valid method! Bam. Victory!

            • Blow suffers from the same sad and destructive paranoia that so many blacks do, thanks to so many years of real and destructive racism in America—they can’t tell what is real and what isn’t any more. It’s America’s fault, no question, but he’s a columnist, and is smart enough to know what’s going on here.

          • After Blow was allowed to get away with mocking Romney’s “Magic underpants” and refused to apologize, I stopped reading him as beneath contempt. He would try to rationalize the Obamas strangling puppies in the Oval Office—I literally don’t care what he says, thinks, or writes, and the Times disgraces itself by employing him.

    • You are just a heightist. I’m sick of heightism in our society. As a 6’2″ dashing man I can’t stand people assuming just because I’m tall I can more easily reach the upper shelves. Sick of it.

      • I agree Tex. I am also 6’2″ and I get asked to reach high things all the time! I would never ask someone who is 4’11” to get me something on a lower shelf.

        Unless, of course, it was one of my kids..

          • I demand back pay – MONEY, not just a thank-you letter! – for my recent help of a fellow airline passenger at her request, after lifting the 60-something-year-old lady’s 30-plus-pound bag into the overhead bin for her. (Never mind that someone else lifted it back down for her.)

            • Well, you were obviously mistaken for a black baggage handler (who are almost all black, by the way. Soon, however, illegal immigrants will have their jobs…). What caused this mis identification? What black stereotype did you embody that caused the woman to miss the fact that you aren’t black? Were you singing “Old Man River,” or “We Shall Overcome” in a rich bass voice? Were you wearing a Snoop Dogg or a “Hands up!” T-shirt? Were you drinking grape soda or Colt 45?

            • No go. I just (2 weeks ago) had a 4 ft. tall LOL (Latino) ask me to get a box of Tide off of the top shelf. LOL in this case stands for “little old lady”. Luck I speak a bit of Spanish, because she spoke NO English at all.

  2. See, I see things like this and I wonder to myself, “Are the Obamas really that privileged and stupid that they believe things like this are actually hallmarks of racism?” I’d like to believe the First Family is more intelligent than that, but I just don’t know anymore. I mean, Barack just gave an interview where he said that one time he was at an event waiting for his valet service and someone threw him their keys, and that was the worst racism he’s ever experienced.

    There are three options: First, Racism isn’t just based on race, it’s also based on socioeconomics, and having been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the Obamas have no conception under god of what real, damaging racism really looks like. Second, they won the racism lottery, and most black people experience racism regardless of socioeconomic standing, but the Obamas just happened to run the racist gambit of life relatively unmolested. Or Third, they’re lying. They have experienced real damaging racism, but they feel that it won’t poll well with Americans who might see being a victim as being weak. So instead, they find superficial examples of racism that make them look like whiners, because the choice between looking whiney or looking weak is hard, but America hates weak.

    I’m skeptical of two. I lean towards one.

  3. Even when I’m not wearing red, I ALWAYS get asked for help at Target. Almost every trip, no matter the state. I guess wording and attitude matter? But often people then back it up by saying, “Oh, sorry, I thought you worked here.” I also, when asking for help, use disclaimers sometimes. Like, “I know you don’t work here, but do you happen to know…”
    But I also think that the lens of your own experience is at work here, AND the lens changed recently with specific incidents. So I agree that Jack’s assessment is correct, but I also (and i guess this is my actor inside) can understand why some people would see it that way. I’m a native of TX, and there were weird things that happened sometimes (mixed race grouping, external person comes in and clearly treats some parts of the group differently) that I had to have explained to me and changed MY lens, and I was standing right there for the original incident. Not that I was so clueless I didn’t see what was happening, but that more context gets added after the fact and I see similar interactions later differently.

  4. The last time I was at a Museum, I was asked where the restrooms were several times and to take pictures of people with their children in front of exhibits. It wasn’t until someone asked me to fix a broken exhibit that I realized that I was wearing the same shirt and pants as the staff. It was just amusing to me. I’m sure President Obama would use it as an example of being treated like ‘the help’ and be horribly offended. Maybe it doesn’t bother me because I actually have been ‘the help’ and it didn’t then nor does it now seem demeaning to me. Is the problem that they feel they are above helping ‘normal’ people and that working an honest job is demeaning?

    • Come on people! Michelle would have helped…if there were a regulation in place that she lawfully had to help or had she had the lawful means to compel someone else to help.
      What we need is an addition to civil rights law, that allows a black person who is asked to help to find the nearest white person and force them to help. Then we will have racial parity and everyone will be happy and there will be no more of this who-helps-who-and-why.
      (As long as we have a complex formula for determining who is black or minority, because we don’t want any White Hispanics or Asians getting away with things.)(Oh, and a side note…if someone has high cheekbones and a recipe for Pow Wow Chow they’re a minority.)

      • So we need to be Germany now? German law dictates when you are to help someone and makes it mandatory. Should we also have Apartheid? A lot of minority students demanded Apartheid (mandatory racial ID cards with rights and privileges determined by them) when I was in college. They were afraid white people were going to get the benefits that only minorities have a right to.

        What if I just have frybread and Indian taco recipes? ;’)

  5. Jack,

    I have a question for you :

    I the majority accept something morally wrong as right, does that make it fall on the positive side of ethics given that ethics are determined by the masses as to what is deemed acceptable ?

    In this question, here is a clear example – Suppose the population of said society was 2,000,000 . If 1,750,000 accept murder as acceptable behavior, given that ethics is a societal thing and not necessarily a “moral” thing — is it now ethical ?

    • Huh?

      Ethics isn’t democratic…

      I understand Jack’s view of ethics as “always changing”, but I slightly disagree with that…

      I’d say that Ethics ARE concrete. We just haven’t meditated on them enough to realize ALL the values in question in any given situation, which is why our ethics seem to change…when really we merely seek to conform them to that final Ideal Ethic that WOULDN’T change at all.

      • That is a good read, however I have noted in various articles it was either implied or directly stated that something was or was not ethical due to mass acceptance, and thus is the reason why something that may be ethical in one society, is unethical in another society depending on mass acceptance (or rejection) of said rule.

        Inherited by this, begs the question, what is possible when ones determination of right from wrong varies from the mass accepted rule. Examples of this vary from war ‘reasons’ to organizations such as PETA (although they have adopted certain conduct which by many would be considered unethical even by their own principles — however PETA is not the topic, only the concept of having an organization).

        Suppose, you live in a country where freedom is highly regarded, however upon inspection, what you believe freedom to be, and what (through actions by the system) it actually is, vary significantly. An analogy would be you believing you have a Porsche, but you find out, it’s actually a bicycle, however everyone around you still believes that two-wheeled vehicle is a Porsche. The only test that could equivocally be done would be that you are wrong, and that two-wheeled vehicle is in fact – a Porsche, even though nothing fits logically, it is something accepted and the defining principle is so well guarded by the masses that you would look retarded (with the ‘how dare you’ remarks and all).

        The reason why I am asking this, is because to me, it seems that all too many are accepting what they are told as fact, without questioning. And those who do ask the right questions, eventually either validate or invalidate the ‘norm’ as for what is commonly accepted. For example, if everyone in the world believed and held that murder was ethical, and I believed it wasn’t — that would make me an outcast, however my value because it directly contradicts the masses would be considered unethical ? would it not ?

        Since it is that time of year, one value I hold high, is to not lie — however the masses are persistently lying to those among us who are most susceptible as they are still developing — learning right from wrong. How is it that we can uphold such a contradiction and then defend it claiming it’s magical when it has really become more about commerce, and greed, and lying ? I believe that you can have the ‘magic’ without the lying, and greed. The irony is when discussed most consider it like an attack, however I do not understand why when one value that is notably marked as wrong, is consistently contradicted on our most vulnerable ? You know it is a lie that will eventually be discovered as one, and yet the tradition continues. Why not just tell the truth and have it completely as a family time ? I truly do not see the logic in why or how it is good to lie to our children, and then further enforce that lie through governmental systems such as the Post Office. Before flaming a response, please take a moment to consider the event with a logical brain, and not an emotional one.

  6. I think Michelle Obama was describing just one of many microaggressions that she has gone through, just in the very recent past. We don’t know if the lady stopped her on this occasion because she was tall, a woman, or black, or a combination. But I think what Michelle was trying to articulate was resenting the feeling that because of her race, she was assumed to be at some location in a servile role. That was just one example. They also talked about Obama being mistaken for a valet, and for a waiter, even though he was in a tux.

    I think we all have had instances of mistaken identity. But when it comes up again and again, then it becomes part of pattern, and it doesn’t do much to examine each incident individually, it is the aggregate nature of the thing.

    Michelle and Barack weren’t born into wealth privilege, that is something that they built themselves. But wealth alone doesn’t erase the racial caste system that is found in America, as many black people have discovered to their dismay. http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/06/i-taught-my-black-kids-that-their-elite-upbringing-would-protect-them-from-discrimination-i-was-wrong/?tid=pm_pop

    • This is pathetic. If she feels a simple encounter like that is a racist slur, she’s deluded, and ill. There is an excuse for it, certainly: jsut because blacks are paranoid doesn’t mean that some people aren’t out to get them. But on its face, that encounter was benign, and no single element of it suggests any form of prejudice, except from Michelle’s viewpoint. If white people can’t behave normally with African Americans without this kind of unjustified nonsense, then they can’t be blamed for not hiring them, not associating with them, not taking them seriously. Who wants to subject themselves to abuse?

      As far as society is concerned, who cares why normal conduct caused a Michelle Obama to feel mistreated? the fact is that her “feelings” don’t justify the false characterization of facts. She was NOT “assumed to be at some location in a servile role”–she was assumed to be a rational human being, and on this topic, she has demonstrated that she is not. And by telling this ridiculous story, she’s enabling and validating similar delusions that encourage hatred and distrust of whites, and it is despicable in every way.

      ” But when it comes up again and again, then it becomes part of pattern, and it doesn’t do much to examine each incident individually, it is the aggregate nature of the thing.”—well, comgratulations, that’s the logic of prejudice and racism. Can’t you see that? “But when blacks commit crimes/use drugs/ etc. up again and again, then it becomes part of pattern, and it doesn’t do much to examine each incident individually, it is the aggregate nature of the thing.”-
      It is unbelievable that you use the false logic of racism to excuse bias caused by racism. All credibility is lost: who can argue with such utter hypocrisy and ethical blindness?

      And this–Michelle and Barack weren’t born into wealth privilege, that is something that they built themselves. But wealth alone doesn’t erase the racial caste system that is found in America, as many black people have discovered to their dismay–is irrelevant blather. The Obamas are in the white House—no racial caste system effects them, and Michelle was not subjected to one in Target.

      Michelle was so wrong she can’t see right from where she was—irresponsible, unfair, insulting to all non-African Americans, divisive, foolish, dishonest, and offensive. Where are the loyal liberals who have the integrity to say so> Because if you will not acknowledge when an ally is wrong, I don’t trust you judgment to know when he or she it right.

      This is a losing hand, deery. Toss it in.

      • If white people can’t behave normally with African Americans without this kind of unjustified nonsense, then they can’t be blamed for not hiring them, not associating with them, not taking them seriously.
        Exactly right.
        Do you have any idea of the number of new racists that have been “turned” so to speak, by the Obamas and the Martin and Ferguson haters?
        Think about it.
        After reading this story, I don’t think I want to go anywhere that I might have to interact with a black person.
        I may sneeze and immediately be considered a card-carrying racist.

        Wait until customers stop frequenting businesses that employ blacks.
        Without jobs and without social entitlements (stripped by a new and conservative government) times are going to be a-changing.
        This country is going to be one ugly place to be if you’re a black person.

        Remember how your mom used to say, “stop that crying or I’m going to give you something to cry about?”

        Remember I said that.

      • I think the insistence that the incident can’t possibly be chalked up in part or in whole to racism is just as unknowable as insisting that it is.

        Can’t you see that? “But when blacks commit crimes/use drugs/ etc. up again and again, then it becomes part of pattern, and it doesn’t do much to examine each incident individually, it is the aggregate nature of the thing.”-

        Except that black and white patterns of drug use are about the same.

        I notice the Right has focused a lot on Michelle’s remarks and not so much on Barack’s. Though in reality, there could be just as innocuous explanations for someone mistaking Barack for a valet or waiter as well that have nothing to do with race. But if you are constantly being mistaken for a waiter, or a valet, or a shop worker, a person might top to examine why. And one of those explanations might be, in the United States, that blacks and Hispanics are often to assumed to be of the “servant class.”, (for lack of a better term).

        And this–Michelle and Barack weren’t born into wealth privilege, that is something that they built themselves. But wealth alone doesn’t erase the racial caste system that is found in America, as many black people have discovered to their dismay–is irrelevant blather. The Obamas are in the White House—no racial caste system affects them, and Michelle was not subjected to one in Target.

        I think they were using precisely those anecdotes to show that they were still affected by the racial caste system in the United States. Go on any right-wing website where the president is subjected to racialized insults, and it is easy to realize that the Obamas are still subject to the racialized caste system. That they have risen despite it is to their credit, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. There are wealthy Dalits in India, but it doesn’t mean that they still aren’t known as being an Untouchable despite their wealth. Or as the very common joke puts it: What do you call a black man with a Ph.D? Answer: A n*****.

        • [You do know you’re deflecting arguments you can’t rebut by cherry-picking, right? Like the actual drug use stats have nothing to do with my analogy, which is correct: Your defense of judging individuals by the group is a defense of racist thinking.]

          What’s unknowable? We are taking the anecdote as she tells it, including the elements that she believes prove her point, and there’s NOTHING. NOTHING!!! No, we can’t prove that the shopper didn’t really think “Wow. there’s the First Lady in disguise, here’s my chance to make her feel like Prissy!” We can’t prove she doesn’t think she’s Catherine the Great, either. But we can conclude that based solely on what Michelle said, the fact that we know shoppers ask for help from other shoppers and the fact that Michelle looked nothing like an employee, that she didn’t make a prima facie case, not just for a racial incident, but for any misconduct whatsoever.

          You also conveniently ignored her prior description of the same incident as non racial.

          Now, if she had said, “Want to know how traumatized African Americans are from their experiences through slavery and Jim Crow? A harmless, innocent incident like this at a Target still upsets me at a visceral level, and I have to stop and say, “Michelle, stop it. This isn’t fair or rational;” that opens the conversation without shifting the blame in the story to an innocent shopper.

          That would be productive. But don’t blame the shopper, Mrs. O, or me, for your neurosis, or say that unbigoted, fair people have to suffer because you ignore individuals for the “totality of experience.”

          • That would be productive. But don’t blame the shopper, Mrs. O, or me, for your neurosis, or say that unbigoted, fair people have to suffer because you ignore individuals for the “totality of experience.”

            When did she say that?

        • That joke is 1) not common at all—I never heard it, and I collect jokes, and 2) If you really think that 95% of the white public wouldn’t blush at any companion telling such a joke in public or private, you’re as biased and deluded as Michelle. Are you stuck in 1961 Alabama or something? You sound insane….said insanity coming from swallowing fact-free Sharpton-style propaganda for too long. And 5 minutes is too long.

          There’s no caste system, deery. It’s just a convenient lie.

          • Do you really believe there is no racial caste system in the United States, all history, facts, and current statistics to the contrary? Yet I’m the insane one? Ok. No point in debating with you.

        • ” Go on any right-wing website where the president is subjected to racialized insults, and it is easy to realize that the Obamas are still subject to the racialized caste system.”

          Dumb comment of the day.

          Go to any room full of eskimos and it is easy to realize there are a lot of eskimos in this country.

          Go to a library full of clowns and it is easy to realize there are a lot of clowns in this country.

          Really? That comment passes for logic with you? No wonder you are so deluded. Go on any right-wing website where the president is subjected to racialized insults….

          Ok, so we have to check places hand picked to already be biased from which to generalize a conclusion? Dumb. Just plain dumb.

          I’ll need help finding those websites by the way, the main stream ones, popular ones, and certainly the ones I frequent don’t match your mischaracterization.

          Just plain dumb.

      • And on THIS topic ^^ …

        I believe you hit the nail on the head when it comes to the underlying reason for her belief that it was ‘racist’ : She looks at anyone helping her or asking her to do something for them as doing it for ulterior motives. In this particular case, the racism point is a VERY long stretch, but not an unrealistic one. Asking a ‘black’ person to do something for you, in her eyes was demeaning as it was a direct inference to slavery and the ‘get a black person to do it’ motives. Whether this was true or not of her situation, unless something came across in the other persons demeanor or they outright claimed (directly to her or under their breath to a friend or whatever), “look, i got me a slave” or similar, then I do not believe she has just cause to make such a claim.

        Additionally, even if said incident were truly of a racist nature, for her to outwardly make a claim using that ONE case as an example of how terribly bad racism is — is preposterous, and pompous.

        Then again, what else do you expect from your elected officials when the selection is rigged. It is clear if THAT is to be an example of the pinnacle of intelligence on said plot of dirt — then shame. It would seem that the country would likely be more successfully run by a child as their activities would be less childish and more honest.

    • Since when was Barack Obama not born into wealth and privilege? Barack Obama grew up with parents who were middling to high government officials or directors of various Institutes. He went from private school to private school. He took trips around the world. His job history looks like that of someone who doesn’t need a job to live, but to build a resume. Michelle Obamba went to school with Jesse Jackson’s daughter. She and her brother both went to Princeton. Then she went to Harvard Law.

      Yup, that sounds like normal middle-class people to me.

      • Michelle Obama is the daughter of a secretary and a guy who worked at the city water plant. She grew up in a two bedroom apartment. I don’t consider that a wealthy background.

        Barack Obama grew up with a single mother, who flitted around place to place, and she eventually married a student turned government worker, and lived in Indonesia, attending the local language private schools, and getting home schooled by his mother. He was then sent to live with his grandparents, and attended private school in Hawaii with the help of scholarships. An eclectic background, but really wealthy, either one.

        Michelle comes from a solidly working class background, while Barack is more bohemian/lower middle class.

  7. The reason Moochelle spun this story into a racist encounter is because she knows how stupid most of America is and how aptly they will drink this Kool-aide down.
    Guilty White Liberals will suck it down like the proof that it is – they must save black people from the racists in America and the black homies will feel a kinship and get the idea that she is “down with them”.
    Hey, it works for her idiot husband.
    Meanwhile, the rest of the world is laughing.

    On a side note, I’ve been in two Target stores in this area and have NEVER seen a black employee.

  8. Something is fishy about the tales the First Lady is telling. I find it very hard to believe (1) that some lone shopper approached the First Lady in a Target to ask her to get a box of detergent off the shelf without being set upon by a host of Secret Service, and (2) that there was any racial or racist intent by the detergent seeker. Moreover, as I read the quote from the article, and heard her recounting to the always insightful David Letterman wherein she declared that it was a wonderful experience, I had the sense that she was annoyed that the lowly commoner had the unmitigated gall not to know that she was addressing the First Lady and failed to curtsy and avert her eyes. Got Marie Antoinette anybody? If that experience and someone tossing a set of keys to the President are the extent of their experiences with actual and/or institutional racism, then I would say they have it pretty good. Didn’t they attend Ivy League undergraduate and law schools? Isn’t her brother the basketball coach at some big named university? Didn’t the President attend the best schools in Hawaii and Indonesia? Aren’t they President and First Lady of the United States of America? That seems like a huge step in the right direction.

    Or so I thought. I read the Charles Blow article linked above where he discusses this as yet another example of white privilege and subjugation of the Black community through white majoritarian (sp? I think I just made up a word) micro-aggression. I don’t know which was more distressing: his simpering, silly op-ed or the guilt-ridden commenters agreeing with him (the ones Jack would call ‘weenies’). He writes, “But that is, in part, what racial discussions come down to: feelings. These feelings are, of course, informed by facts, experiences, conditioning and culture, but the feelings are what linger, questions of motive and malice hanging in the air like the stench of rotting meat, knotting the stomach and chilling the skin.” Therefore, he posits that the shopper’s intent is irrelevant; the only relevant factor is how the First Lady felt. Feelings govern everything. Based upon this viewpoint, when I say to a black person while attending a picnic at the local park that I love watermelon or fried chicken, I am inherently and implicitly denigrating him or her. Wow.

    Well, with that as our new national standard for race relations, we have just taken about 60 years of progress and thrown it out the window. Never mind that minorities are members of all branches of local, state and federal government and all branches of state and federal police and military; are professors at elite and not-so-elite schools (from Pre-K to Post-Graduate); sit on Fortune 500 companies’ boards of directors and occupy positions as officers, directors and presidents of international companies; are lawyers (Eric Holder???), accountants, engineers, dentists, astronauts, doctors and other professionals; run local and nationwide franchises of all shapes and sizes of commerce, or are some of the highest paid athletes and entertainers. Feelings control. Yep. She felt slighted by what she told Letterman was a short lady asking her to reach up for some detergent. That is it.

    For the First Lady to extrapolate racial indignity from that encounter shows the depth of her contempt for this country and the white community. Shameful. Simply shameful. She and the President have a duty to the country and not special interest groups positioned to determine the outcomes of elections. He and she have failed that duty. Miserably.


  9. I’ll say this. I work at a movie theater near a Target, and I’ve been asked in BOTH my movie theater uniform (which is blue and black) AND in street clothes if I knew where to find something. I think working customer service makes me give off a vibe or something. Or maybe people conflate the blues to mean “Walmart” because standing inside any chain retail store makes some people think they’re in Walmart no matter what.

  10. Often, you do not need to go looking for trouble, however, if you do, you are likely to find it. Why did THE FIRST LADY of The United States of America leave the White House on a venture to Target in the first place? Her ‘experience’ and comments were made in efforts to distract from something larger what we may never know. It is unfortunate and reflects poorly on our leadership and how far we have come together as a country. We all have our own brains, we just need to ‘know’ how to use them …. as opposed to being ‘told’ how we should.

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