Michelle Obama trending after talking about the fear Black parents face

“Many of us still live in fear,” the former first lady says

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Sunday 09 May 2021 12:37
Michelle Obama ‘afraid’ daughters might be stereotyped when driving

Even after a guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin, many Black parents still “live in fear” for what police could do to their children – even if they’re related to some of the most powerful people in the world.

That’s according to former first lady Michelle Obama, who began trending on social media after describing in an interview with CBS This Morning how she worries every time her two daughters leave the house.

“We’re all breathing a sigh of relief over the verdict, but there’s still work to be done,” Ms Obama told anchor Gayle King. “We can’t sort of say, ‘Great, that happened, let’s move on’. I know that people in the Black community don’t feel that. Many of us still live in fear as we go to the grocery store, or walking our dogs, or allowing our girls to get a licence.”

The Obama’s children, 19-year-old Sasha and 22-year-old Malia, both now have their driver’s licence, and Ms Obama opened up during the interview about the anxieties she has about the assumptions police may make about her daughters.

“Every time they get in a car by themselves, I worry about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn’t know everything about them: the fact that they are good students and polite girls,” she said. “Maybe they’re playing their music a little loud. Maybe somebody sees the back of their head and makes an assumption.”

She concluded her reflect in the interview, which airs on Monday, with an appeal for tolerance and understanding from her fellow citizen.

“I think we have to talk about it more, and we have to ask our fellow citizens to listen a bit more, and to believe us,” she said, adding, “We’re real folks, and the fear that so many have of us is irrational.”

Naturally, some people on social media began doing the exact opposite. Soon Ms Obama’s comments were trending, and conservative political figures were bashing the Obamas for expressing their fears.

“It is seriously amazing the people who live like GODS in this country and still whine about the place. Oprah, the Obamas, LeBron, etc..” columnist Jesse Kelly said. “Ungrateful losers spreading misery. All of them. Detestable.”

“Michelle Obama, instead of telling young black girls who look up to you that they’re doomed because of racism, why not tell them what you did to overcome it?” Lavern Spicer, a congressional candidate said.

But many hit back at the critics, given that even the most privileged Black Americas have still had interactions with police they described as disproportionate and driven by bias.

For example, the eminent Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates Jr was famously arrested because neighbours thought he was breaking into his own house. In 2017, NFL start Michael Bennett said Las Vegas police threatened to “blow his f*****g head off” after mistakenly detaining him.

Throughout their time in the public spotlight, the Obamas have talked openly about their experiences with racism.

Nearly a decade ago, Mr Obama shared a similar personal reflection about a high-profile racist incident.

In 2013, after a volunteer with a police-affiliated neighbourhood watch group shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black 17-year-old, Mr Obama gave a speech at the White House where he said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

"And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here,” he said, “I think it’s important to recognise that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away."

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