When it gets turned on its head, though, is when things get interesting.
One of the most vocal public figures when it comes to race in the United States is former first lady Michelle Obama. The wife of the forty-fourth president continues to harp about how race has affected her in her life.
It seems that when he was ten years old, Craig Robinson was riding his bike and two Chicago police officers stopped him with the idea that he had stolen the bike. Robinson, in a remarkably astute move for a ten-year-old, asked the police officers to take him home so that his mother could confirm ownership of the bike.
“It was terrifying only because I was always taught that the police are your friends and they’ll believe the truth,” Robinson recalled. “I was telling them the truth and this guy would not believe me.”
The two officers did so, and Mrs. Robinson added some details that were really rather stunning.
Marian Robinson added some details to the story, including that both police officers who confronted the 10-year-old Robinson were black. She says she lectured the pair on how they “canceled out” what she had been teaching her children about interactions with police.
“What you did was cancel out a whole lot of things that we had been teaching them,” Marian recalled. “And I think you need to come back here and talk to them and at least admit you made a serious mistake so that you won’t cancel out everything we’ve been trying to teach our children.”
As unfortunate as the incident was, and it was unfortunate, that is a sure statement, Michelle Obama’s take threw oil on a gasoline fire as far as race is concerned.
“Nobody thinks about the fact that we all come from good families that are trying to teach values,” she said. “But when you leave the safety of your home and go out into the street, where being Black 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.”
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