Since leaving the White House, former First Lady Michelle Obama has been keeping out of public view. And last week, she made her first appearance in Colorado with a message to women. On the Denver stage during an interview during the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s TogetHER conference, Michelle Obama stood in front of a crowd of both young and old, predominately women.
While her message for women might sound simple – seize your power and don’t let go – it has caused a wave of outraged across the country.
If eight years at First Lady taught Michelle Obama anything, it is how to look confident and relaxed in front of a scrutinizing crowd. She sat in a armchair on stage before 8,500 people. She was playful and disarming yet still serious. During her interview, she spoke about the education of girls, health and nutrition for women and how to empower the female population. She had worked on these issues as First Lady and wanted to share her insights with the crowd at Colorado’s 30th anniversary of the Women’s Foundation at the Pepsi Center.
Michelle Obama was asked what it had been like to be the first black First Lady. She opened herself up and said:
“The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” she said, about people calling her an ‘ape’ and the comments about her rear end. “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”
Michelle Obama did not pretend that those words had not hurt her, because they had. No one can fault her for that. Bullying and racism are challenging things to endure – even for the first lady.
“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said. “We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”
Although Obama said that women are cut from society, she said that women should embrace their scars. The small afflictions they must endure every day – sexism, racism, bullying – are damaging. And Michelle Obama wanted women to know that they are not alone, even the First Lady felt these pains.
During her interview, Obama stayed away from politics – until she decided to take some pot shots at the current president.
She warned people not to fall into the notion that the nation is divided or falling apart. Instead she encouraged people to remember that America is a new country that is constantly growing and improving – despite apparent setbacks.
“The people in this country are universally good and kind and honest and decent,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of the country you live in. The folks here are good.”
Although she was one of the most influential women in the country, while First Lady, Michelle Obama attributed any success she may have had to the women in the public.
“I’m a strong woman because of other strong women. You don’t mother alone, you don’t grandparent alone, you don’t struggle alone. You find your community.”
What do you think about her remarks?