Thursday, December 18, 2014

Michelle Obama Went To Target...

A few years ago First Lady Michelle Obama, for whatever reason, decided to dress down, don a baseball cap as a disguise, and do some shopping at Target. I have no problem with that. If she wants to sneak out and be a regular person for the day who am I to find fault? Everyone needs a little down time; time to just be yourself and relax. You know - except for that whole Secret Service detail thing following you around and disrupting the other shoppers.

So Mrs. Obama, who reportedly is 5'11" tall, was "standing in the detergent aisle" when a woman who was vertically challenged asked her if she (Mrs. Obama) would get a bottle of detergent off of the top shelf for her. Mrs. Obama obliged her.

A week or two later Mrs. Obama was a guest on David Letterman. (The Obama's like to be on TV, it seems.) She relayed that story to Dave and his guests, saying the woman didn't even know who she was. There was no animosity and no hint of anything disparaging in her story. It was cute.

Fast forward to 2014. The Obamas were recently interviewed by People Magazine and relayed their experiences with racism and/or racial stereotyping. Suddenly the cute story Michelle told about her shopping trip to Target became a story about how she was "mistreated" by another shopper.

"Even as the first lady," she told the magazine, "during the 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."

So in the three years since she told Letterman the woman didn't even know who she was and asked her to get something off the top shelf for her that woman has turned into a racist.

Michelle and her famous husband also relayed the President's experiences with racism and stereotyping. 

“Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs," Michelle said. 

OK - that's most likely true. But it's South Side Chicago. Is anyone surprised?

She further relayed that on one occasion the President “was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”

OK, if this happened my question would be - what were the waiters wearing? Is it possible someone mistook him for a waiter? Or was it a simple case of "Ask the black guy to get us coffee"? Only Michelle knows for sure.

“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," the President said. I must say honestly that I don't believe that for a minute. But setting that aside - who hasn't been mistaken for "the help" (as the Obamas put it) at one time or another?

I'm white. I'm 6'1" tall. I've been asked on numerous occasions to get something off the top shelf for someone who cannot reach it. Depending on my attire I've been asked "Do you work here?" and have never once known that the question was racial in nature.

You want to hear examples of racism directed at you, Mr. President? In 2010, former President Bill Clinton was talking to Ted Kennedy about you. He said "A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee." Know who complained about that remark? Not one person - not even you.

In 2008, then Senator (and presidential candidate) Joe Biden said of you "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Once again, stereotypical comments from a white person. But hey - that's just Joe, right? You even called him and forgave him after some in the media called him on his remarks and he made a public apology, albeit - with an excuse.

Let's not forget good old Harry Reid, who was impressed with you and thought you would be a good Presidential candidate because you're a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Harry was forgiven as well. It seems racism can only be attributed to strangers and people on the right.

President Obama has been criticized by some for not taking a larger role in fighting racial injustices, particularly against black men.

"If you look at after what happened with Michael Brown, if you looked at what happened after Trayvon, if you looked at the decision after Eric Garner, I'm being pretty explicit about my concern, and being pretty explicit about the fact that this is a systemic problem, that black folks and Latinos and others are not just making this up," Obama recently told Black Entertainment Television. "I describe it in very personal terms."

Certainly he has interjected himself into local incidents of so-called racism (even if the racism aspect of them was disproved over and over.) But why has he not addressed racial bias and racial discord in general? Why, as the first African-American President, has he not made racial harmony one of his priorities instead of racial division? 

I've said before that President Obama could have been the perfect man to further promote racial harmony and reduce racial division in this country. If he'd have stepped up as the first black President (you know - a real black President instead of Bill Clinton) and said "We all need to live and work together in harmony and unison. Let's toss aside the racial barriers that divide us. I was elected by both black and white Americans. That fact alone shows tremendous progress in race relations in this great nation," think how much good he could have done. Instead, he decided to choose sides based on color and make comments that only served to further divide.

I'm not sure why the first black President and First Lady continue to whine about how difficult their lives are. Neither of them grew up in the ghetto. President Obama was raised mostly by his white grandmother and attended private schools, going on to attend Occidental, Columbia and Harvard universities. Michelle was raised in Chicago and in the sixth grade she attended the gifted program at Bryn Mawr Elementary school, going on to Chicago's first magnet high school, then to Princeton and Harvard. Hardly a tough life for either of them.

I'm sure they experienced some forms of racism during their lives. Racism does exist and there are stupid people everywhere. But did they suffer from it? I don't think so. Not having been there that is merely my personal opinion. But in all of Obama's writings I didn't see any major stories where he suffered from the effects of racism - other than saying his grandmother was a "typical white woman." But was that a reflection on her or on him?

Many Americans are getting tired of the Obamas playing the race card on a regular basis. I'm one of them. People see the division in this country growing on a daily basis fed by the President and other prominent blacks in the country. Personally, I'd rather see leadership, calls for unity and the dispelling of racism on all sides. I don't expect such things from the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or even Eric Holder. And it seems the Obamas don't really know how (or refuse) to do that. So nothing is going to change - unless it changes for the worse. And that's truly shameful. Increased racial strife in the United States of America could very well be one legacy of the first black American President. And he'll have no one to blame but himself.

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