Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Obamas speak out on racist experiences

I can relate. When I was a computer programmer/analyst, I was sometimes mistaken for a data entry person.

By Peter Grier
Dec. 17, 2014

The Obamas say they’ve experienced the everyday casual racism that blots US life for African-Americans.

Not (for the most part) as president and first lady, of course. Since 2008, they’ve been protected by the symbols of the presidency and by the Secret Service from that sort of thing, they told People magazine in an interview released Wednesday.

“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” said first lady Michelle Obama to People.

Mrs. Obama said her husband, in his pre-White House days, was also mistaken for a waiter at a black-tie gala and asked to get coffee. President Obama himself said a white person once assumed he was a parking valet.

“There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” he said.


With his People magazine comments, he seems to be making two points. The first is that small racist experiences happen to every black person in the United States. That goes a long way toward explaining why blacks as a whole have much more suspicion about police action and racial progress than do whites, as measured by polls.


Obama’s second point seems to be that there’s been progress on these issues despite the fact that he's suffered racial slights.

“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” he told the magazine.


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