Michelle Obama on race in America

The US First Lady speaks out about racial stereotypes


Michelle Obama has given an impassioned speech on race and her personal experiences of being black in the US.
Obama gave the commencement address at Tuskegee University in Alabama, speaking for almost 30 minutes about race perceptions and the ‘deep-rooted problems’ in American – ‘those age old problems are stubborn and they haven’t  fully gone away.’
It is a poignant and moving speech. She warned the predominantly black audience that ‘there will be times […] when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are.’
She shared her personal experience of the ‘daily slights’ and ‘little indignities’ faced by people of colour in the US – and cited the unrest in Baltimore as proof that communities remain frustrated by ‘decades of structural challenges’ that serve to make black people feel isolated and invisible.
Obama also spoke candidly about the personal frustrations and fears she harboured when her husband, Barack Obama, was running for election:
‘As potentially the first African-American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others… Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom.’
Watch an excerpt from the speech below.


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