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Mrs. Obama’s Comments on Race

So I will say a couple of things about this, from First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement speech Saturday at Tuskagee University. First, here are her remarks. Or you can watch the video below.

The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away. So there will be times, just like for those Airmen, when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are.

The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day — the countless hours you spent studying to get this diploma, the multiple jobs you worked to pay for school, the times you had to drive home and take care of your grandma, the evenings you gave up to volunteer at a food bank or organize a campus fundraiser. They don’t know that part of you.

Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.

And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day — those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds; the agony of sending your kids to schools that may no longer be separate, but are far from equal; the realization that no matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen — for some folks, it will never be enough. (Applause.)

And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter — that you’re like the invisible man that Tuskegee grad Ralph Ellison wrote about all those years ago. And as we’ve seen over the past few years, those feelings are real. They’re rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country. (Applause.)

But, graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. (Applause.) Not an excuse. They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose.

But here’s the thing — our history provides us with a better story, a better blueprint for how we can win. It teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of those lowest emotional depths, and we channel our frustrations into studying and organizing and banding together — then we can build ourselves and our communities up. We can take on those deep-rooted problems, and together — together — we can overcome anything that stands in our way.

I don’t frankly agree with some of the other commenters I’ve seen on the right, who have made snide points to the effect of, “Poor Mrs. Obama, with her wonderful lifestyle, still complaining.”

People can have beautiful lives and still feel the sting of racism, and certainly have experienced it on the way up. It carves out wounds that never heal, even when you become first lady of the United States.

It’s clear here is that Mrs. Obama, who also last week talked about the alienation black children feel in museums, has decided to jettison the nonracial, less-controversial public image created for her just before and after the Obamas entered the White House in 2008.

Fine. My concern here is that both of the Obamas seem to now be making race a very large focus on their agenda. And this can end up being dangerously divisive.

This country has come a long way on race. Though it took long enough, we have dealt with our racial differences in a far more successful and noble fashion than almost any other society with racial divides. I’m still waiting for the first non-white leader of a European nation, for example.

That there continue to be racial problems is without question. But this is not the chief issue holding African Americans back from their place as full economic and social equals with everyone else in their country.

The main problem used to be white oppression. Now the main problem is from within the black community. A problem, that, in my view, is stoked by liberal economic, social, and cultural policies.

Without sacrificing the things that are sublime about black culture, African Americans need to become more integrated into the general culture. Not that there’s so much that’s great about the general culture these days, but still it has to happen. But the change, abetted by better government policies designed to lift all, has to come from within.

To the extent the Obamas are going to be flagging race on a constant basis, we are going to become more divided. I know this is not their intent. But it will be the result. And it will do nothing to solve the deep, entrenched problems of the inner city.

We need, instead, a message of togetherness.

Now if that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, even after hearing it many times, nothing will.

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44 Responses to Mrs. Obama’s Comments on Race

  1. Obama was to be the great uniter. But ever since he stuck his nose into the Gates fiasco (not knowing the details, but still stating that the cops acted stupidly), followed up by Trayvon, Michael Brown, and so on, he’s been on the wrong side of what’s right repeatedly. (In exchange, Gates’ publication, “The Root” seems at times as much about pushing Obama’s agenda as it is about writing on “all things black”.
    Now Michelle is claiming she’s been eyed in stores and had people cross the street because of her color. She might mention the people in many cities around the U.S. who actually do so out of fear for their lives when they see a group of young blacks (h/t Jesse Jackson).
    Those in the people’s house should unite the people, not continue to stir up animosity among us.

    • Well said.
      It begs the query, when will they be satisfied ?
      What do they need to be satisfied ?

      She spoke at Tuskegee College.
      The college that produced the Tuskegee Airmen, one of the finest fighting forces to ever take to the air.

      They supported bombing missions over Europe, and never lost 1 bomber.
      That is a remarkable record, one that has never been achieved by any other support fighter group during WWII.

      The bravery and the courage that these men exhibited in the most dire of circumstances exemplified them as some of the most courageous warriors this Country has ever produced.

      Against all odds,…they succeeded and surpassed what was expected of them.

      I wonder if the students there are being taught their story.

      The siren song that Michelle is singing will only lead them to the rocks.

      Look instead to men like Booker T. Washington, and Martin Luther King.
      There you will find what you are looking for.

    • I think I now see the “unified” world was actually to be one in which the AfAm narrative went unquestioned and Whitey would humbly take his place beside Obama,wondering what he could do next for penance.

  2. As Rush said today. It is depressing. “They” have done the complete opposite. Instead of inspiring and bring this County even closer than we had come though the years, they have/are doing the opposite.

  3. Where did Black people like MrsObama get the idea that they are the only group that suffered discrimination, that was judged by the actions of a few?
    Italians are mobsters, the Irish are drunks, the Jews are money lenders, the Catholics are bound to the Pope, Mexicans are lazy, the French smell funny and on and on.
    The Lutherans distrust the Baptists, the Sunnis distrust everyone, and so goes the world.

    So long as any group depends on the forebearance of another for their success, that goal will never be achieved. White people can’t make Black people something else, can’t make them successful or wonderful.
    While MrsObama would like to blame Whites for the inner city ghettos, for the poor education of Black children, the truth is that the blame is on themselves, and is on the intrusive and soul-killing programs that the government promotes to them.

  4. Nope. Michelle has blown every opportunity to make a difference to elevate the black community, especially the women. She could have emulated other strong black women in history, but she chose to channel her inner Angela Davis every freaking time she’s behind a podium with her hard knock life stories of never “fitting in”.

    What a shame. I’m sorry she’s had her feelings hurt in the past, in the present she invites more criticism with her behavior and in the future, I hope she just grows up.

    Somehow I think all this schtick on race is setting the course for a future of raking in millions for their foundation a la Clinton.

    Ben Carson would have been a more inspiration speaker at Tuskegee, his life story is more compelling to inspire.

    • Spreading race division has been a cornerstone of the Obama administration, and Michelle is right in the middle of it. Obama has done absolutely nothing to improve the plight of inner city blacks (or any other inner city groups, for that matter). It’s part of their divide and conquer strategy.

      Her speech should have been uplifting and hopeful. She could have quoted or talked about many Black heroes who have made amazing contributions: Percy Julian, Wendell Smith, Rosa Parks, Bass Reeves, Jessie Coleman, Benjamin Davis, Chappie James, Doris Miller, William Hastie, Harriet Tubman, Elijah McCoy, Jan Matzeliger, Lewis Latimer, Fred McKinley Jones, Lloyd Hall, Charles Drew, George Washington Carver, Justice Thomas and many, many more Blacks who made huge contributions to the US and the World.

      She could have said, look at these amazing people. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, they overcame all their obstacles and made a difference. You can do the very same. The path for you has been laid.

      Instead, she limited herself to “oh, poor me”. Just pathetic.

      • Not to mention the many black conservative women we have today fighting the good fight for all. Mia Love for example, another amazing lady who persevered and worked hard.

        • Yes. Mia Love for sure. And many others, as you say. They are still facing bigotry from the Left and much of the MSM. They are heroes, indeed.

    • “I know this is not[the Obamas]intent.”

      Really? I know this: The Obamas have proven themselves to be politically self-serving aristocrats.

      I agree with DeniseVB. Fomenting racial division is their path to riches. Shameful!

  5. I think you mean “flogging” the race issue, Keith, not flagging, but it reminded me that I heard another great description elsewhere online:

    the Obamas are “chumming the waters” with racial discord.

    is that not perfect?

    this speech of Moochelle’s was extremely disheartening. I just keep comparing them to Mitt and Ann Romney. what would Ann be saying right now about the privilege of being First Lady? I mean, I get it–the Obamas have a huge chip on their shoulder. but for goshsakes, get over it already!

  6. WTH! She continues to segregate everyone. In her mighty, oh-so- hard-to-live-with attitude, being the queen moo,who has every want & desire delivered to her, just sthu. We’ve listened to her mooing moaning for over six years now. Try lifting “your people” up, not give them more strife to light on fire in her continued “poor us” mentality!

  7. “The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me.”

    Sounds like Michelle Obama just hates being Black! Everything is such a ‘schtruggle’. Counting the days til she and her wighats are gone!

  8. They both want to demonize other races so no one questions them anymore

    then they can do whatever they damn well please and if you say ANYTHING you are immediately called a racist and have to slink away on your knees

    they are almost there…

  9. Michelle Obama is the first black First Lady. With this speech today, it is clear that she only represents the liberal black population of America….and no one else. The delusional narcissism of liberalism is often stunning to watch, and this speech was no exception. Michelle seems to believe that she was invited to speak so that she could tell everyone about herself and how hard her life has been. Just like her husband, Michelle obviously believes everything and everyone should revolve around her. It is truly repulsive beyond words.

  10. i have to say this is crap! i think a lot of people are like me (white) and don’t see color (despite being older, when racism was more rampant). I live in the SW where there are Mexicans, Guatemalans, Canadians, Americans, Germans, Brits, Middle Eastern decent, all those come in all shapes and colors within their nationality….to use a Hillary line (which galls me) WHO CARES!!!

  11. “Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world.”

    So we’re the ones that have a limited world view? Really? I’ve seen a lot of clips of this speech but this is the first time I’ve seen this sentence. This makes me incredibly mad. Who exactly is she referring to? Whites? Conservatives? This is the same as the stupid “clinging to their guns and bibles” statement by Obama.

  12. She’s absolutely beyond help. Her mother taught her nothing but hate for America and for white people, it seems. She is “shtruggling” to become the first anti-American First Lady — Cares nothing for her position and only cares for people who are her own color. How dumb is that? How racist she is! Her people loot and burn down buildings, criminals and drug and alchohol addled, this woman is ugly on the inside and outside. Take your miserable unhappy self with your miserable and unhappy criminal partner to another country, see how you like it there and just leave everyone alone. You and him along with Hillary Clinton have committed crimes of treason and should be arrested.

  13. My diagnosis is that Stockholm Syndrome has infected the blogger. This particular post is just one of a rash of symptomatic posts. Godspeed.

  14. The Obama’s are a couple who, when they came to the fork in the road where they could take the path to destroy or the path to uplift, chose to travel the path of destruction.
    Many black people voted for Obama simply b/c he identifies as black – totally disdaining his white heritage.
    From their positions the Obama’s could have done so much for the black community. They have chosen instead to re-inforce the stereotype of the poor pitiful black who cannot do anything b/c of the evil whites who hate them. So false, so self-serving,so damaging.

    • It will be interesting to see when white people burn the homes of all the *Thugs that did all this damage to the USA !! Wake Up America !!

  15. The road ahead is not going to be easy for anyone after the Obama economy. Jobs will be scarce unless a part time job will do. Buying a house with a part time job will not work out so they may as well get used to living in Mommy and Daddy’s basement then maybe they can afford a nice car. The only time I’ve crossed a street is when there are a bunch of guys, whether they be white, black or brown and look like they are trouble. I’ve never crossed a street due to someone’s race!! When I was a kid, my mom always told me I would have to work harder than my brothers for whatever I wanted because I am a female. I’m white, not black or brown but still had to work very hard to get where I am today. There were many road blocks but I managed to either go over, around or under due to hard work. So as far as I’m concerned, Ms. Obama is talking out of the wrong side of her mouth!! I don’t think she had it as bad as she says. I believe her about as much as I believe that person she’s married. I have also never seen a couple try to cause as much racial tension as the Obama’s. I’m counting the days till this so called “rock star” leaves the WH!!!

  16. Just discussing with friends what race relations were like in the 1990’s and all agreed they were much better than they are these days Ben Carson is not qualified regardless of color. Doubt that a black candidate could be elected President now.

  17. I’ve been eyed by clerks, etc., and never supposed that it was anything more than the clerk’s anxiety over shoplifting. And my reaction was one of maturity, not because my ancestors came from Europe and I have a privilege that I never knew about.

  18. Didn’t his election actually reveal how racists many blacks are at all levels of society? “My President is a Black Man” tee-shirts on the street, “white privilege” in the academic and political world.

  19. I found her remarks appalling because she chose to make them at a college commencement ceremony. Did she have nothing positive or uplifting to say to these graduates as they go forth into an admittedly imperfect world? Perhaps she wanted to deflect the blame for their not being able to find jobs from her husband’s economic policies to racism and white privilege.

    Michelle is a perpetually angry woman. There is little, apparently, that can make her happy. Her, and her husband’s, racial animus knows no bounds. I wonder if part of it stems from the knowledge that absent the color of their skin, neither would be sitting in the White House now.