Michelle Obama


“When Barack was first elected, various commentators had naively declared that our country was entering a “post-racial” era, in which skin color would no longer matter.  Here was proof of how wrong they’d been.  As Americans obsessed over the threat of terrorism, many were overlooking the racism and tribalism that were tearing our nation apart.”

“Though I was thought of as a popular First Lady, I couldn’t help but feel haunted  by the ways I’d been criticized, by the people who’d made assumptions about me based on the color of my skin.”

“I was now starting to actually feel a bit angry, which then made me feel worse, as if I were fulfilling some prophecy laid out for me by the haters, as if Id given in.  It’s remarkable how a stereotype functions as an actual trap.  how many “angry black women” have been caught in the circular logic of that phrase?  If you’re written off as angry or emotional, doesn’t that just cause more of the same?”

“I was exhausted by the meanness, thrown off by how personal it had become, and feeling, too, as if there were no way I could quit.”  NPR website carried a story with the headline: “Is Michelle Obama an Asset or Liability?” “Refreshingly honest or too Direct?” and “Her Looks: Regal or Intimidating?”  I was more active than many candidates’ spouses, which made me more of a target for attacks, but his campaign team kept telling me it was better not to respond, to march forward and simply take the hits.  “This is just politics”

“I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally.  The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person.  It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know – a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.


A friend who knows me well called up, clearly worried that the lie was true.  I had to spend a good thirty minutes convincing her that I hadn’t turned into a racist, and when the conversation ended, I hung up, thoroughly demoralized.”

“The whole affair was a reminder of how our country’s distortions about race could be two-sided – that the suspicion and stereotyping ran both ways.”