The new issue of People Magazine hits the stands this Friday. In it is an article entitled “The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences.” I’m excited. I love comedy of the absurd.
Based on the excerpts released thus far, it reads like a piece from The Onion. But sadly, it’s not satire, it’s reality. Or rather, the first couple’s view of reality, which always triggers, with a slight adjustment, the famous advertising jingle in my head, “My baloney has a first name, it’s O-b-a-m-a.”
Here is Michelle Obama’s recounting of her racist encounter, “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.”
Yes, those things do happen in life. I’m often bombarded by requests to “hold the elevator,” “hand me a napkin,” and “how do I get to the 101 freeway?” It’s incredibly insulting. We blonde-haired, blue-eyed women are constantly imposed upon because we are thought of as less than. I blame the offensive blonde jokes for this bigoted behavior.
Idiotic is not a strong enough word to describe the first lady’s assessment of her encounter. While shopping, I am often asked to help get something off the shelf. Why? Because standing at 5’8” I’m taller than most women and therefore can reach higher shelves. Michelle Obama is almost six feet tall. Could it be that the woman asked her assistance due to, I don’t know, Michelle’s height? No, no, it couldn’t possibly be a request based on practicality, it must be that woman was a racist.
More likely, Michelle Obama is a narcissist. Let’s unpack her statement. She said, “…during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised…” She points out that it was well-known that she was embarking on a shopping adventure with the masses. She did not wear a wig or sunglasses to hide her identity, and believes she was recognizable. However, “…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.” The word only is telling. It’s expected that the first lady of the United States would receive some attention, some fawning. She didn’t. When she was addressed, “She didn’t see me as the first lady.” And there it is. Michelle Obama’s nose is out joint not because she was seen as a black woman, but because she wasn’t seen as the black woman.
Her assertion that this was racist is not only foolish, but perplexing. A few years ago she recounted the same incident differently on David Letterman’s show. “No one knew that was me. Because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said – I kid you not – she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not. And the only thing she said – I reached up, because she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down. She said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good.”
The interaction felt good then, but now, it’s an indication of racism. That poor Target shopper. Not only is she short and unable to reach high shelves, now she’s also a racist.
Not to be outdone by his wife, the president made this equally stupid claim in the article, “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’s met every professional black male his age, has he?
Perhaps he recognized the absurdity of their claims and tried to counter them when he said, “The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced.” The obvious commentary on that statement is… duh. You would have to have the mental capacity of a sea slug, or Al Sharpton, to equate these ever-so-common experiences, which any person of any race could encounter, with the dehumanizing Jim Crow laws and lynchings of the past.
The only accurate words President Obama used are “small irritations.” And “irritations” is even a stretch. People regularly ask small favors of others in this little place I like to call reality where we encounter folks I like to call human beings. Here, we are also occasionally mistaken for people we are not. His top advisor Valerie Jarrett did so in 2011 when she mistook Four-star Army General, Peter Chiarelli, for a waiter at an elegant Washington dinner. Or maybe she just hates Italians. Yes, that seems more plausible.
The Obama’s claims of “racism” are preposterous and they should be ashamed of themselves. I doubt they are. They are word contortionists, twisting, distorting and reformulating in order to suit their current political agenda. Remember, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan?” And his recent executive order on illegal immigration after more than 20 times claiming he did not have the authority to do so.
Michelle’s first description of her Target encounter was charming, and most likely her true reaction. But now, in the wake of Ferguson and the Eric Garner case, where the race-baiting hype of racial injustice dominates the news cycle, that sweet story of an interaction with the common folk of America has morphed into “evidence” (pitiful and laughable though it may be) of racism.
“My baloney has a first name, it’s O-b-a-m-a…”
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