Michelle Obama has said that, to many white people, black people ‘don’t exist’ — while citing a story about a time a white woman cut her and her daughters in line when she was incognito.
The 56-year-old uploaded episode five of ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’ on Spotify on August 26, and while chatting with her friends Kelly Dibble, Denielle Pemberton-Heard, and Dr. Sharon Malone, she highlighted a troubling reality for black people in America.
‘What the white community doesn’t understand about being a person of color in this nation is that there are daily slights, in our workplaces where people talk over you, or people don’t even see you,’ she said.
New ep: Michelle Obama spoke with with her friends Kelly Dibble, Denielle Pemberton-Heard, and Dr. Sharon Malone in the new episode her podcast
Reality: Obama (with Pemberton-Heard, right, and Malone, left) said that to many white people, black people ‘don’t exist’
Life: Obama (with Dibble, left, and Pemberton-Heard, center) said: ‘What the white community doesn’t understand about being a person of color in this nation is that there are daily slights’
She provided several examples of those daily slights, showing that even the First Lady has been dismissed and ignored — while living in Washington, D.C. in the White House.
She recalled how several years ago, she, her daughters Sasha and Malia, and her podcast guest Pemberton-Heard went out for ice cream together once after a soccer game while Obama was still President — and a white woman cut right in front of them in line.
‘We were stopping to get ice cream, and I had told the Secret Service to stand back because we were trying to be normal, trying to go in. It was Häagen-Dazs, wasn’t it?’
‘There was a line, and… when I’m just a black woman, I notice that white people don’t even see me. They’re not even looking at me.
‘So I’m standing there with two little black girls, another black female adult, they’re in soccer uniforms. And a white woman cuts right in front of us to order. Like, she didn’t even see us.
‘And the girl behind the counter almost took her order. And I had to stand up, because I know [Pemberton-Heard] was like, “Well, I’m not gonna cause a scene with Michelle Obama.”
Remember: She recalled a time she went out for ice cream with her daughters and was dressed incognito — and a woman cut them at an ice cream shop and didn’t apologize
Blending in: Obama (pictured at Soul Cycle in 2017) said that several times as First Lady, she’d take the dog for a walk and people would stop to pet the dog — but wouldn’t acknowledge her
‘When I’m just a black woman, I notice that white people don’t even see me. They’re not even looking at me,’ she said
‘So I stepped up and I said, “Excuse me?” I was like, “You don’t see us four people standing right here, you just jumped in line?”
The woman who cut didn’t even apologized, and ‘never looked me in my eye.’
‘She didn’t know it was me. All she saw was a black person, or a group of black people, or maybe she didn’t even see that, because we were that invisible,’ she said.
‘I can tell you a number of stories like that, when I’ve been completely incognito, during the eight years in the White House, walking the dogs on the canal, people will come up and pet my dogs, but will not look me in the eye,’ she said.
‘They don’t know it’s me.
‘What white folks don’t understand is, like, that is so telling of how white America views people who are not like them. You know, we don’t exist. And when we do exist, we exist as a threat. And that — that’s exhausting.
The women also discussed ‘the murder of a black man in public’ — George Floyd — and their feelings about racism.
Familiar: The women also discussed the Central Park birdwatching incident, with Obama saying it ‘infuriated all of us when we watched it’ but ‘was not unfamiliar’
‘We talk about racism all the time. There’s a level of pain, frustration, just fatigue with being black in America,’ Obama said.
When one of her friends says that she finds that ‘people don’t believe’ black people when they talk about the threats they face — and accuse them of ‘being overly sensitive’ — Obama chimed in: ‘You mean white people. Our white friends, our white colleagues. People who don’t experience this in their lives.’
The conversation also turned to the Central Park birdwatching incident on May 25, in which a white woman named Amy Cooper called the police and claimed that a black man — Christian Cooper — was ‘threatening her life’ even as he stood several feet away filming and asked her to leash her dog in accordance with park rules.
‘That incident in Central Park, which infuriated all of us when we watched it, it was not unfamiliar,’ Obama said.
The women also discussed lighter subjects, including how they met, ski trips, and ‘having a crew that you can go to and say whatever is on your mind and not be judged for it.’
Obama noted that because of her own friendships, she’s never liked the way female friendships are portrayed so often on reality TV — as catty and bickering.
‘I have such wonderful friends in my life,’ she said. ‘I want as much for them as a I want for me.’
Podcasting! ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’ debuted on Spotify in late July
Tired: In a previous episode, Michelle said she was suffering from ‘low-grade depression’ and discussed her ’emotional highs and lows’
Earlier this month, Obama opened up about suffering from ‘low-grade depression’ in another episode of her podcast.
She discussed her mental state in episode two of ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’ in a conversation with NPR’s Michele Norris, speaking candidly about how how ‘exhausting’ and ‘dispiriting’ it is to watch how the President responds — or doesn’t respond at all — to ‘yet another story’ of a black man or person being hurt or killed.
Ugh: She said it’s ‘exhausting’ to watch how Trump responds — or doesn’t respond at all — to ‘yet another story’ of a black man or person being hurt or killed
During the conversation, Michelle was candid about her ’emotional highs and lows,’ saying, ‘Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times.’
She said she is battling some form of depression ‘not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.
‘I don’t think I’m unusual, in that,’ she added. ‘But I’d be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country since its birth.
‘I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting.
‘And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.’
But she added ‘spirit is lifted’ when she feels healthy and surrounds herself with good people, like family and friends.
Hard times: She spoke to journalist Michele Noris about mental health, the pandemic, and President Trump in the second episode
‘I reach out to my family, and to my friends, even in this time of quarantine. You know, I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy, and my girlfriends, my husband, my kids,’ she said.
‘It’s the small things, small rituals [that make a difference],’ she said.
After the episode debuted, she said ‘a lot of people’ reached out to her to express concern, to which she responded o Instagram, sharing a black-and-white photo of herself which was taken by Adam Garber, the Obama Administration’s Video Director for the Office of Digital Strategy.
‘I just wanted to check in with you all because a lot of you have been checking in on me after hearing this week’s podcast,’ she wrote.
‘First things first — I’m doing just fine. There’s no reason to worry about me. Like I said in that conversation with @Michele__Norris, I’m thinking about the folks out there risking themselves for the rest of us — the doctors and nurses and essential workers of all kinds.
‘I’m thinking about the teachers and students and parents who are just trying to figure out school for the fall. I’m thinking about the people out there protesting and organizing for a little more justice in our country.
‘The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us — that we all should just feel OK all the time — that just doesn’t feel real to me,’ she went on.
Alright: Michelle promised admirers that she is ‘doing just fine’ and there is ‘no reason to worry’ about her after concerned admirers reached out following the podcast’s release
‘The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us — that we all should just feel OK all the time — that just doesn’t feel real to me,’ she said
‘So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. I hope you’re listening to yourselves and taking a moment to reflect on everything that’s coming at us, and what you might be able to do about it.
‘And to all of you who’ve reached out — thank you,’ she wrote. ‘I hope you’re also reaching out to all those you’re closest with, not just with a text, but maybe with a call or a videochat. Don’t be afraid to offer them a shoulder to lean on, or to ask for one yourself. Love you all.’
In that podcast episode in which she talked about mental health, Obama also explained how she learned to stick to a routine in the White House.
But lately, she said, that’s been difficult, and it is affecting her sleep.
‘I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ’cause I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness,’ she said.
‘I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low.
‘You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself, and sometimes there’s been a week or so where I had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself. And say, “You know what? You’re just not feeling that treadmill right now.”
‘You have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it. So you kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta, I gotta feed myself with something better,’ she added.
A chat with hubby: Her first guest on July 29 was her husband, former President Barack Obama
Michelle and Michele also broached the subject of racism in America, with Obama saying: ‘We talk about white women clutching their purses at the sight of us, or feeling uncomfortable when we walk in the store, but I wonder, do you know how afraid we are?’
Obama’s first guest on the premiere episode of her podcast on July 29 was her husband, former President Barack Obama, whom she called the ‘eternal “Yes, we can” man.’
Flashback: Michelle wished Barack a happy 59th birthday on August 4 by sharing a photo of her ‘favorite guy’ and daughters, Sasha and Malia, when they were kids
Barack celebrated his 59th birthday on August 4, prompting his wife to share a photo of her ‘favorite guy’ and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, when they were kids.
Michelle said she invited Barack to be her first guest ‘because he’s navigated these questions throughout the course of his life. In many ways, you can see his entire career as a constant conversation and evolution with his relationship to a larger and larger community.’
During the episode, the couple talked about the differences in their childhoods, with Barack teasing Michelle that her upbringing was ‘black “Leave It to Beavers”… only thing missing was the dog.’
They also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, with Michelle saying, ‘Like most Americans, we’ve been spending a lot of time together in quarantine.
‘I’ve been having a great time. But we’ve had some interesting conversations… because these are some crazy times,’ she told him.
The episode also explored the protest movement sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Big bro: Her brother, Craig Robinson, has also been a guest in an episode of the show
Favorite: Craig admits he is the one who got their mother to move into the White House
Wisdom: Michelle also talks to her mother, Marian Robinson, on an upcoming episode
‘Given everything that’s going on right now, from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the ongoing protests and conversations that are testing our patience — and our consciences… not to mention all the challenges we’re experiencing due to the pandemic, I think that these days, a lot of people are questioning just where and how they can fit into a community,’ Mrs. Obama says.
Others episodes have cover many other topics, from light to serious, including parenting, self-care, marriage, mentorship, family, and civil duty.
In episode three, she chatted with her brother, Craig Robinson.
Upcoming episodes will feature talks with comedian Conan O’Brien in episode six, Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett in episode eight, and Chynna Clayton, Yene Damtew, and Kristin Jones.
‘I can’t wait for you all to hear the conversations I’ve been having for the #MichelleObamaPodcast,’ Michelle tweeted.
The podcast is produced by Higher Ground Productions, the company formed by the Obamas in 2018, which has also made content deals with Netflix.