In a new interview set to be published in People magazine on Friday, Barack and Michelle Obama discuss a number of race-based topics, including the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as their own experiences with what Obama calls small racial “irritations.”
“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,” President Obama told People, in a 30-minute interview conducted Dec. 10.
The first lady also shared stories of incidents in which President Obama was profiled because of his race.
“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” said Obama, telling about another time when her husband “was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”
Michelle Obama said she’s had her share of racial slights as well.
“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,” Obama said. “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.”
President Obama put the incidents in perspective, comparing them to what older generations faced in the past and to what younger generations face today. (RELATED: Obama Wants Daughters To Work Crappy Minimum-Wage Jobs So They Understand America)
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” Obama said.
“It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala,” he continued. “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.”