The Obamas Said Something Kinda Controversial, And A New York Times Columnist Has A Great Response
Whether or not you've been a fan of the Obamas, one thing's for sure: These issues can't be brushed aside.
On Dec. 17, 2014, People Magazine published an interview with the Obamas.
The Obamas spoke about their experiences with racial bias.
According to the interview, President Barack Obama once "was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee."
First Lady Michelle Obama made this powerful point:
"Before [his presidency], Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs."
She also retold an anecdote:
"I tell this story — I mean, even as the first lady — during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new."
Obviously, that didn't sit well with some critics.
Whenever you bring up race and racism, you're bound to get some pushback.
Fortunately, New York Times columnist Charles Blow had some pretty swell commentary to give.
Blow does acknowledge that we don't know *why* that person asked the first lady to help her take something off the shelf, and he admits that we may never know.
However, he's got a great point, and he makes it so eloquently:
All we know is that Mrs. Obama questions the encounter and has misgivings about it. For her, it's a feeling. Others might hear this story and feel that Mrs. Obama possibly overreacted or misconstrued the meaning of the request.
But that is, in part, what racial discussions come down to: feelings. These feelings are, of course, informed by facts, experiences, conditioning and culture, but the feelings are what linger, questions of motive and malice hanging in the air like the stench of rotting meat, knotting the stomach and chilling the skin.
We recommend reading his op-ed column in full, but here's another excerpt for you to chew on:
"We can no longer dismiss racial discussions as victimhood affinity. Decrying systemic victimization is not synonymous with embracing the identity of the eternally victimized. On the contrary, identifying, condemning and relentlessly fighting oppression is part of the path to liberation."
Pretty thoughtful, right?
In fact, Blow's commentary was so compelling, he was invited to CNN to speak with Brooke Baldwin.