Former first lady Michelle Obama claimed that Americans were “not ready” for her to wear braids during her husband Barack Obama’s eight year stint in the oval office.
Obama made the assertion while at a promotional event for her new book, “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times,” which was moderated by Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday night.
“I didn’t wear braids,” she told the crowd gathered at Warner Theatre in the nation’s capital.
“I was like, ‘They’re just getting adjusted [to a Black president in the White House]. It would be easier. But they’re not ready for it,'” she detailed.
Obama decided it was in her best interest to straighten her hair to avoid what she believed would cause friction with White America.
“It would have been ‘remember when she wore braids? Those are terrorist braids. Those are revolutionary braids,'” she speculated. “So let me just keep my hair straight, let’s get healthcare passed.”
The former first lady explained that Black people are scrutinized for their choice in hair styles in general, but Black women are particularly afflicted in the workforce.
“We deal with it – the whole thing about, ‘Do you show up with your natural hair?’” She said, according to the Washington Post. “That’s the African-American experience.”
“But women in offices that are worried, ‘Should I wear skirts? Should I wear pantyhose?’ I hate pantyhose,” she continued. “But when you’re carrying all this other stuff, this mask, these differences and you’re trying to do your job, it’s just an extra burden on overcoming.”
Obama cited her husband’s tan suit controversy of 2014 to illustrate her point, “They tripped out when Barack wore a tan suit,” she pointed out.
The former president wore a light colored suit to a press conference he held regarding the US military’s response to ISIS activity in Syria on August 28th of that year.
Long Island GOP Rep. Peter King called Obama out the next day. “There’s no way, I don’t think, any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. I mean, you have the world watching,” he remarked according to Intelligencer.
“For him to walk out — I’m not trying to be trivial here — in a light suit, a light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about, and he said that’s the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy,” King snarled.
“This is a week after [slain American war correspondent] Jim Foley was beheaded, and he’s trying to act like, you know, real Americans care about the economy, not about ISIS and not about terrorism,” he continued. “And then he goes on to say that he has no strategy.”
The White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama “feels pretty good” about his wardrobe choice at a presser. ”The president stands squarely behind his decision he made yesterday to wear his summer suit,” he commented.
“The great indignity, the scandal of the Obama administration,” the former first lady laughed.
Obama said that she knows “what it feels like to be attacked,” but never developed a “thick skin,” nor does she want to, as she believes allowing herself to be wounded by personal attacks gives her “compassion” for others.
She said her parents gave her the tools to react appropriately to negative things that people have said about her.
“I had to practice that time and again and tell myself, ‘this is where empathy comes in.’ Empathy is an important tool, especially in the White House,” she explained.
“I had to ask myself, ‘for the people throwing the arrows, what is going on in your world? Because this isn’t about me – you clearly don’t even know me.'”