Michelle Obama Talks to Oprah About Stereotypes and the Traumatic Election

Michelle Obama Talks to Oprah About Stereotypes and the Traumatic Election

The First Lady opens up about everything in her final interview at the White House.

The First Lady opens up about everything in her final interview at the White House.

Text: Jake Viswanath

First Lady Michelle Obama has never been one to hold back, always remaining gracious, composed, and unapologetic while speaking her truth. She did just that one last time during an interview with Oprah, which aired last night. It is her final White House interview as First Lady, during a time when her popularity is higher than ever.

Before exiting the premises, Obama opened up about her beginnings as the First Lady, the upcoming Presidential transition, and everything in between. While acknowledging that the transition can be tough, she reminded us all of her experiences that made her ready for the position in the first place.

"Let us not forget: I didn’t just wake up first lady,” she said. “I’ve been in the world. I’ve worked in every sector, and you don’t do that without coming up against some stuff. You know, having your feelings hurt, having people say things about you that aren’t true.” She continues, “Life hits you, so over the course of living, you learn how to protect yourself in it. You learn to take in what you need and get rid of the stuff that’s clearly not true.”

Knowing the sacrifices the family makes to move into the White House, Obama said she would extend a hand to impending First Lady Melania Trump. "My offer to Melania was, 'You really don't know what you don't know until you're here, so the door is open,' as I've told her and as Laura Bush told me and as other First Ladies told me.”

She emphasized, “The next family that comes in here, every person in that family, every child, every grandchild, their lives will be turned upside down in a way that no American really understands, and it’s not for us to complain about it. So you don’t hear complaints. But it is a—a truth, an actuality, that there is a weight to it.”

Oprah also asked the First Lady about being labeled as the racist “angry black woman” stereotype during her husband’s presidential campaigns. “That was one of those things that you just sort of think, dag, you don’t even know me, you know?” she said. “We are so afraid of each other. Color, wealth, these things that don’t matter still play too much of a role in how we see one another. And it’s sad, because the thing that least defines us as people is the color of our skin, the size of our bank account. None of that matters.”

If it’s any solace to you at all, even the First Lady was slightly traumatized by the outcome of this election, telling Oprah that she ended up not confirming the news until she checked her phone the next morning. "This past election was challenging for me as a citizen to watch and experience,” she said. “It was painful.”

But despite her fierce opposition, she kept an optimistic tone, highlighting the importance of unity and support for the country, even if it means tolerating an egotistical, vulnerable, and simply awful President. “We are going to be there for the next president and do whatever we have to do to make sure that he is successful, because if he succeeds, we all succeed,” she said.

When asked about the future, the First Lady sadly dismissed rumors of her own presidential run. “No,” she firmly stated. When Oprah pressed on, she explained, "Look, that's one thing I don't do. I don't make stuff up. I'm not coy. I'm pretty direct. If I were interested in it, I would say it. I don't play games… People don't understand how hard this is, and it's not something [where] you just cavalierly ask a family to do it again."

And her mother? “Grandma is done!” she declared when Oprah asked what her plans were after the inauguration. "She is going back to Chicago. She is like, 'Bye, Felicia!’” Now let’s applaud Michelle Obama not just for her incredible work in the last eight years, but also for the fact that she’s not afraid to say “Bye, Felicia” as the First Lady. We miss her already.

Credits: Photo: Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

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