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Michelle Obama Discusses The Racism She Faced While First Lady At Women’s Conference

“There are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”

Photo by Tim Pierce/Flickr.

On Tuesday night, former first lady Michelle Obama sat down for an interview with Women’s Foundation of Colorado president and CEO Lauren Casteel at the Pepsi Center for the foundation’s 30th anniversary event. Six months after leaving the White House, the first black first lady reflected on her eight years spent serving the nation.


Casteel asked Obama which of the “falling glass shards” cut deepest when she broke the glass ceiling as the first black first lady. “The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” she said. Obama referenced being referred to as an “ape” and the numerous negative comments about her body she had to endure. “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”

Obama also praised women for their everyday resilience. “Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said. “We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.” Obama also made the case for admitting that racist and sexist attacks are painful. She believes that when we pretend not to be hurt, it lets those who do the hurting off the hook.

Although Obama steered clear of any political discussion, she tried to be positive about the future of the country in the Trump era. “The people in this country are universally good and kind and honest and decent,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of the country you live in. The folks here are good.” Obama was also asked if she would ever run for office, and she said she would not but that “public service and engagement will be a part of my life and my husband’s life forever.”

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