Michelle Obama Opens Up About The Racist Attacks She Dealt With As First Lady

"The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut."


Since leaving The White House in January, former First Lady Michelle Obama has kept a relatively low profile, but the Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer still makes time to stand up for, and speak out about issues that are close to her heart

On July 25, after being introduced by a group of girls from all over the world, Mrs. Obama spoke to a crowd of approximately 8,500 people at the Women's Foundation of Colorado's 30th anniversary event in Denver. In a conversation with WFCO President and CEO Lauren Casteel, Obama addressed a wide-range of topics including education for girls, health and nutrition, and female empowerment — all causes she previously championed as a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

According to The Denver Post the former First Lady generally stayed away from anything overtly political, but she did poignantly reflect on some of the tougher obstacles she faced as FLOTUS when Casteel commented she broke a glass ceiling by becoming the first black first lady, and followed that up by asking which of the falling glass shards cut the deepest.

"The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut," Obama explained, referencing being called an ape and belittling comments made about her body. "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 color."

Per The Washington Post, the "ape" barb Mrs. Obama mentioned came from a West Virginia nonprofit director who called the mother of two an "ape in heels" in a Facebook post celebrating President Trump's win.

Though Obama said she can't pretend remarks like that don't hurt, she's keenly aware she's not alone in being on the receiving end of disparaging statements. As an embodiment of her "when they go low, I go high" philosophy, Obama said she rose above such utterances and encourages other women to do the same.

"Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don't even notice we're cut," she continued. "We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we're still getting up."

And despite the cruel remarks directed at her because of her race and/or gender as well as the current political climate, Mrs. Obama remains gracious and optimistic about America and its citizens. "The people in this country are universally good and kind and honest and decent," she said. "Don't be afraid of the country you live in. The folks here are good."

The Obama White House / Flickr

A great deal of the conversation also focused on girl's empowerment and education, which Mrs. Obama remains dedicated to even as a private citizen. She told the crowd wants "girls to embrace failure," and reiterated the importance of girls in STEM.

The latter subject is also something Mrs. Obama touched on back in June when she spoke at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in Silicon Valley and called for more women in tech. She told the audience they "have to want to" make more room for women, adding, "and that's where I look to the fellas in the room and say, 'Are you ready? Are you really ready to have women at the table?' Then make room."

Cover image via The Obama White House / Flickr.


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