Michelle Obama Speaks Truth About Racism in America

By Juanita Bratcher

Publisher & CEO, CopyLine Magazine

Thank you, First Lady Michelle Obama for speaking the truth about racism in America.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks facts while some Right Wingers engage in “Lies and Crazy Talk”

Why is it that when high-profile Blacks speak the truth about racism in America they’re accused of “race baiting” and playing the “race card”? Perhaps those who accuse them of this atrocity have a problem with them telling the truth or bringing it to the raw attention of others. How dare they have the audacity to open up the eyes of others as to what is really going on in our country. Why is it so hard to deal with the truth…the facts that are dangling right before our eyes?

In most cases, many of them are aware of what is going on already. So why not get it out in the open. Young blacks should know the history of racism in this country toward Blacks and other minorities. Some are too young to remember or were not born when we were living mostly in a segregated America – which really hasn’t changed that much even with a Black president serving his second term in office. They should know the truth. Let’s face it, racists have never had a problem ditching out their malicious, racist rhetoric. They never had a problem spewing out their hatred, evil, and mean-spirited thoughts. And how often do you hear or see them being taken on for their racist slurs and rhetoric?

In case you missed it, about a week ago, FLOTUS, when giving the Commencement Address to the 2015 graduating class at Tuskegee University in Alabama, among other things, focused on her experiences as First Lady. She said during the 2008 presidential campaign she had to fight misperceptions due to her ethnicity; and told graduates they would encounter “daily slights” throughout their lives in the US, where “age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away.

“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.”

“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 noted.

Obama also talked about The New Yorker’s cover in 2008 that parodied her as a radical and a terrorist. “It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun,” she said. “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.”

Then there were the media that accused her of “a little bit of uppity-ism”, and described a celebratory fist bump with her husband as a “terrorist fist-jab”.

“Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom.”

Moreover, Obama told the graduates that “the road ahead is not going to be easy”, that it never is, “especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away.”

Obama noted that there will be times when they’ll feel “like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are”, and in many cases they will make assumptions about them based on their limited notion of the world. And would not be seen as the hard-working graduates they appeared on the day of their graduation who had struggled to achieve their education, pay for it, and give back to their communities.

Needless to say, Obama’s speech to Tuskegee graduates brought some Right Wingers out of the woodwork, the same as when Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with BBC while on a promotional tour for the film “The Butler”, a real life story of Cecil Gaines, an African American man who served as a White House butler for eight different presidents, said President Obama was a “victim of racism,” that there are ongoing issues of prejudice which is also a generational one.

“There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs,” Winfrey said in the interview, “And that occurs in some cases and maybe even in many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that, and it’s the kind of thing that nobody ever says but everybody is thinking it.”

Those comments were truth to power!

Commenting further on generational prejudice and at the same time noting that race relations have improved, Winfrey said: “Of course, the problem is not solved. As long as there are people who still, there’s a whole generation – I say this, you know, I said this, you know, for apartheid South Africa, I said this for my own, you know, community in the South – there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”

No sooner than said, Oprah’s remarks were attacked by conservatives and conservative media. After stating the truth?

Multi-Billionaire Oprah Winfrey was a victim of racism in August, 2013 when a shop store clerk in Switzerland refused to show her a purse that cost $38,000. Winfrey made note of the incident while appearing on the Larry King Show.

It’s amazing how people are verbally attacked for telling the truth! Facts are facts, lies are lies, and spin is spin. So why is it a problem when one expresses a truthful opinion and is bombarded with contempt over their remarks or confronted by a large attack crew that questions the validity of what was said and try to wreck it? Is it because they don’t want to hear the truth or, they don’t want others to hear or know the truth? More often than not, it’s a combination of both.

Some Right Wingers said Michelle Obama’s speech was nothing short of “race baiting”, that she was playing the race card. Really? I think not.

Now, anyone that says that racism doesn’t exist in this country are living under a rock or in a world of “make believe” and refuses to accept what is actually happening in the real world, whether it’s intentionally or not. Why is it that some people get “riled” up when a high-profile Black speaks the truth about racism in this country?

Just because the problems of racism that exist in this country are pointed out doesn’t say that Blacks don’t have a love for our country. We do love our country. And that should never be questionable. Even in married life, one can love their partner but can still point out a problem or two in the marriage, discuss them, and hopefully try to find a solution or solutions to resolve them.

When you take a look back from whence Blacks have come in this country, of course we have come a long way from the segregation era of yesteryear, but the struggle for equality and against racism in this country continues.

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 39 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.