Michelle Obama's Message to College Graduates Missed the Mark

Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2015 at Tuskegee University on Saturday, and of course she didn't miss a chance to talk about racism. Well, even I can't blame her for bringing up race in this case, seeing as how she is the first black First Lady, and Tuskegee is a historically black school.

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Leaving race off the table wasn't really an option. She spent about 30 minutes addressing the crowd at the Alabama university, and focused mainly on race relations.

She talked about the stigma of being the first black family to reside in the White House, and how she's been accused of being uppity, as well as being called "Obama's baby mama." Because apparently that's racist now? It's hard to keep up these days.

The First Lady said, "My husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be ... We've both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives ... And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry."

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She related her journey to the US's first World War II African American pilots, who were trained at Tuskegee. She said that even though they were highly trained pilots, official Army reports described the black soldiers as "shiftless," "Childlike," and "unmoral and untruthful."

Obama reiterated, "[Racism] can make you feel like your life somehow doesn't matter. And as we've seen over the past few years, those feelings are real ... They're rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible, and those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country."

It's hard to put Michelle Obama on the same level as the black soldiers who really did face unfair discrimination. I know she was trying to be relatable, show that she's "one of the people," but why can't just highlight the challenges that have been overcome? It just seems rather oppressive to tell a group of people that others will discriminate against them for their skin color.

Michelle Obama has nothing in common with black people who have faced real racism in places like Baltimore and Ferguson. She grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth. She may be African American, but that doesn't mean that she's dealt with real racism. Her critics don't like her or her husband's politics -- we could care less about her skin color.

Sorry, Madam First Lady. I'm just not buying it.

Do you think Michelle Obama has had to deal with real racism in her life?

 

Image via US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

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