When First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in March of 2012, she told Letterman about her incognito shopping trip to Target. While standing in the detergent aisle with her assistant, Mrs. Obama was asked by another shopper if she could reach a box of laundry soap.
“I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip, though. 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, ugh, 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. She had no idea who I was. I thought as soon as she walked up, I was with my assistant and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over, we’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”
When People magazine interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Obama, the First Couple talked about the impact of stereotypes and how they had faced the sting of racism before Barack was elected President of the United States. Mrs. Obama told Sandra Sobieraj Westfall in the December 10 interview:
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”
The First Lady recalled another incident that happened to her husband:
“He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner and somebody asked him to get coffee.”
Mrs. Obama recounted the trip to Target again, with a slightly different tone:
“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.”
During the 30-minute People interview, President Obama added:
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.”
(h/t: The Blaze)
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.