Friday 21 October 2016

I was shocked how media portrayed me: Michelle Obama

David Knowles

Published 11/05/2015 | 02:30

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama has told of her fears at becoming the first black First Lady and how she was shocked by portrayals of her in the media.

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During a commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Ms Obama spoke frankly about the role her racial identity played in the 2008 presidential campaign. 

"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," she told the class of 2015. "Was I too loud or too emasculating? Or was I too soft? Too much of a mom and not enough of a career woman?"

Ms Obama referenced her satirical portrayal on a July 2008 cover of 'The New Yorker' "as a terrorist". 

"Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover," Ms Obama told the graduates at the historically black Alabama college. "It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I'm really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder 'Just how are people seeing me?'"

She told her primarily African-American audience that being black in America still isn't equal.

"The road ahead is not going to be easy," Ms Obama said, "It never is, especially for folks like you and me."

She aired a list of slights she said black Americans deal with on a regular basis. 

"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," Ms Obama added.

Irish Independent

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