In the latest episode of her eponymous Spotify podcast, Michelle Obama said she and Barack “never could’ve gotten away with some of the stuff that’s going on now” under the Trump administration when her husband was president, claiming the Black community would have deemed it unacceptable.
The former First Lady was joined by her mother, Marian Robinson, and her brother, Craig Robinson to discuss topics including race and expectations of Black Americans for the season finale of her widely popular podcast on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
“When we were in the White House, we could’ve never gotten away with some of the stuff that’s going on now, not because of the public, but our community wouldn’t have accepted that. You worked, you did your best every day. You showed up,” Obama said, throwing light on the current protests in the country against racial discrimination and police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
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“The fact that there are people out there that treat us less than, when we’re working so hard to be better than, that’s where the pain comes from. That’s what these young people are so angry about,” she said. “The notion that people are out there wondering about these protests, it’s like, do you know how much it takes, that it takes to get up everyday, and be accused of being less than what you are?”
During their discussion, the family also recalled an episode during childhood when Craig was accused of stealing his own bike by the police. Craig was around 10 or 11 when he was stopped by the police around the South Side of Chicago while riding a new bright yellow 10-speed bike his parents had gifted to him.
Craig, who is currently the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, recalled that one of the officers grabbed the bike after accusing him of stealing it. Despite his pleas that the bike was his, one of the officers grabbed it and wouldn’t let it go.
“I was always taught that the police are your friends…and they’ll believe the truth, and I was tellin’ ‘em the truth and this guy would not believe me,” Robinson recounted.
“I was like ‘Oh, you got this all wrong, this is my bike. Don’t worry, this isn’t a stolen bike,’ and [the cop] would not believe me, and I was absolutely heartbroken. And I finally said to him, ‘Listen, you can take me to my house, and I will prove to you, this is my bike.’”
With the bike in the back of the police car, the officers drove Craig to his home, where his mom, Marian, made it known to them that they had made a serious mistake.
“I could tell [the cops] were trying to ask me questions that would trip me up,” Craig recalled. “If I wasn’t so sure that that bike was mine and showed any kind of reticence, I could see them taking me off to the police station, not calling mom until after I’ve been, you know, booked or whatever they do.”
Michelle then went on to describe how Black families have had to safely navigate potential encounters with police. “Nobody thinks about, you know, the fact that we all come from good families that are trying to teach values, but when you leave the safety of your home and go out into the street, where being Black is, is a crime in and of itself, we have all had to learn how to operate outside of our homes with a level of caution, and fear, because you never know,” she said.
Interestingly, the police officers who drove Craig home that fateful day were Black but Marian believes that their “discriminatory treatment was part of a culture among police.”
“…They were acting exactly the same as any other policeman,” she said. “It’s almost like, this is what they thought they were, how they were thought they were supposed to act.”