Obamas on Race: We’ve Been Treated Like the Help

17 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

In new interview, Obamas recall personal racial slights.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spoke candidly about race relations in the U.S. in a highly personal interview with People Magazine, recalling their own experiences with racial bias before moving to the White House. “I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” said the first lady. “Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.” The pair took turns giving examples of race-based assumptions about their social class, relating their experiences to broader racial profiling trends. President Obama has pushed back against criticism that he has not been aggressive enough in talking about issues of race and justice, particularly involving African-American men. “If you look at after what happened with Michael Brown, if you looked at what happened after Trayvon, if you looked at the decision after Eric Garner, I’m being pretty explicit about my concern, and being pretty explicit about the fact that this is a systemic problem, that black folks and Latinos and others are not just making this up,” Obama told BET in an interview earlier this month. “I describe it in very personal terms.” The president told People that he applauds the efforts of other prominent African-American athletes and celebrities to speak out against police brutality using the “I Can’t Breathe” slogan, inspired by the case of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after he was put in a choke hold by a New York City police officer. However, the Obamas, who sat down with the magazine for the 30-minute interview, said what they’ve experienced does not compare to what others have gone through in past generations and in other communities. “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala.

Rosman had been chatting with Obama at the soiree and when they finished their conversation, a fellow guest inquired after the man’s identity, admitting that he had mistaken him for the wait staff. “I was approached by another guest, an established author. He says the small indignities they have experienced pale in comparison to young men who have been mistaken for criminals just for being “dressed the way teenagers dress.”

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