“The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut."
History will remember Michelle Obama as a bold, resilient, and glass-ceiling-shattering pioneer in the White House. But behind closed doors, Obama silently wrestled with painful, unique hurdles literally no one else on Earth has experienced: being a black first lady of America.
During a candid discussion at the Women's Foundation of Colorado's (WFCO) 30th anniversary fundraiser on July 25, Obama opened up about the eight years of racist attacks she endured as first lady.
When WFCO President and CEO Lauren Casteel asked Obama about which falling glass shard from the ceiling she shattered hurt the most, the former first lady replied that it was the targeted comments — rhetoric referring to her as an "ape" and discussing her body — that were the toughest to shrug off, the Denver Post reported.
“The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” Obama said.
“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.”
Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images for The Women's Foundation of Colorado.
While Obama earned relatively high approval ratings among Americans as a whole, she still had to tread through a seemingly unending onslaught of racist dog whistles and overtly bigoted attacks in her eight years as first lady.
There was that eyebrow-raising New Yorker cover depicting her with an Afro and machine gun, the racist (transphobic, misogynistic) comparison to Melania Trump, and the time shortly after taking office that a top Google Images search result for "Michelle Obama" was an image altered so she resembled a monkey.
But the bigotry, however daunting, never kept her from fighting onward.
“I want to live in a world that cares for its women,” Obama said at the fundraiser. “I hope that we can create a world where women are safe. At the core, I want girls to feel safety as they move about the world.”
Obama may no longer be America's first lady, but it's reassuring to know she's still going high — even when they go low.