WASHINGTON: Michelle Obama says she had to fight mis perceptions due to her African-American race during the 2008 White House campaign that saw her husband become the first black president of the United States.
The first lady, who grew up in humble circumstances in Chicago and became a successful corporate lawyer, has rarely discussed race during her husband’s two terms in office.
But a string of recent cases of alleged abuse of police force against African Americans, and related unrest in Baltimore, made it hard to avoid.
“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,” Obama said Saturday.
“Was I too loud or too angry or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?” she asked in a frank commencement address at historically black Tuskegee University in Alabama.
For the first magazine cover featuring Obama in 2008, The New Yorker
parodied her as a radical and a terrorist.
“It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun,” she recalled.
“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.”