Michelle Obama was one of the most popular first ladies in American history, but she says that didn’t protect her from the painful effects of racism.
Obama recently appeared in conversation at an event for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. During their discussion, host Lauren Casteel observed that the first black FLOTUS broke the glass ceiling of race.
She then asked which of the falling glass shards cut Obama the deepest, according to the Denver Post.
“The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” Obama replied. “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 colour.”
Obama referenced being called an ape and people talking about her body as examples of the racism she faced during her husband’s time in office. She added that she resisted the temptation to brush these comments off, because she felt like that let perpetrators off the hook.
“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” said Obama.
“We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”
Rather than pretending they were never hurt, women should own their scars, said the former first lady. Wounds heal with time – and women can then use their experiences to help younger girls who are getting metaphorically “cut” for the first time.
On the subject of politics, Obama reiterated her pledge that she would not be running for public office any time soon. However, she promised that she and Barack Obama remain committed to serving the American people, saying: “Public service and engagement will be a part of my life and my husband’s life forever.”
Obama also demonstrated her commitment to her famous mantra, “When they go low, we go high”. Despite the many forms of prejudice she has faced, she cautioned the crowd against giving into hatred.
“The people in this country are universally good and kind and honest and decent. Don’t be afraid of the country you live in,” she said. “The folks here are good.”
Watch: Why the Obamas were the ultimate superpower couple
Michelle and Barack Obama took some well-deserved time off after leaving the White House in January. A candid photo of the pair, taken while they were on holiday with Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey in April, went viral – and earned Barack the title of “Instagram husband”.
They also recently visited the Indonesian island of Bali with their daughters, Malia and Sasha, for a holiday in the country where Barack spent several years of his childhood.
When at home in Washington DC, the pair are thought to be busy writing their memoirs. Both of the Obamas signed book deals with Penguin Random House in February, after a bidding war between publishers reportedly reached almost £46million ($60m).
Can’t wait for those tell-all books to be published? Read our pick of the summer’s best memoirs here.
Images: Getty, Rex Features