America is facing tough questions about race, and now the Obamas have opened up about their firsthand experiences with racial prejudice.
“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,” the president told the magazine, adding that it has happened to him.
Michelle Obama then recalled another incident when her husband was mistaken for a waiter.
“He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee,” she explained.
For her own part, the first lady revealed that during a trip to Target she was asked by a woman if she could help her get something off a shelf.
“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. 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.”
However, the Obamas agreed that race relations have been getting better although there is still a lot of progress needed.
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” President Obama said. “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.”