Michelle Obama Says She Worries About the Racism Sasha and Malia May Face
"I worry about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn't know everything about them," the former first lady said
Though she says she breathed "a sign of relief" after a jury convicted Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd last month, former First Lady Michelle Obama told CBS This Morning's Gayle King that "there's still work to be done" when it comes to social justice.
In a conversation set to air Monday and previewed in part on Friday, Obama said it is important not to simply "move on" after the guilty verdict in this one trial, against the backdrop of other injustice.
"We can't sort of say, 'Great, that happened, let's move on,' " Obama, 57, told King. "I know that people in the Black community don't feel that way, because many of us still live in fear as we go to the grocery store or worry about walking our dogs or allowing our children to get a license."
"They're driving, but every time they get in a car by themselves, I worry about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn't know everything about them: The fact that they are good students and polite girls, but maybe they're playing their music a little loud. Maybe somebody sees the back of their head and makes an assumption," she said.
Obama continued: "I, like so many parents of Black kids ... the innocent act of getting a license puts fear in our hearts. So I think we have to talk about it more and we have to ask our fellow citizens to listen a bit more and to believe us and to know that we don't want to be out there marching."
The former first lady went on to acknowledge the protests against police misconduct and racism that have taken place over the past year — sometimes after police shootings during traffic stops — and she said marches are necessary, particularly for younger people.
"All those Black Lives Matter kids, they'd rather not have to worry about this. They're taking to the streets because they have to," Obama said. "They're trying to have people understand that we're real folks. And the fear that many have of so many of us is irrational and it's based on a history that is sad and it's dark, and it's time for us to move beyond that."
Her remarks mirrored a statement by husband Barack Obama following the guilty verdict in the Chauvin case. In it, the former president also lauded the jury's decision but added that "true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial."
"Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, in the hopes that they may find peace," President Obama, 59, said. "And we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied."
In recent months, the former first lady has been speaking out on injustice and equality and the need for young people to have confidence in themselves as they move through life.
She recently released a young readers' edition of her bestselling memoir, Becoming, which is hardcover and adapted for children ages 10 and older. It includes "a special introduction for kids" written by Mrs. Obama as well as three full-color photo inserts and — like the original version — details her own journey of personal growth.
She is also currently partnering with the Girl Scouts of the USA on the "Becoming Me" program, which is based on the young reader edition of her book.
To kick off the program Thursday, the former first lady spoke virtually with five Girl Scouts of various ages from around the country.
She used a portion of that conversation — which was previewed this week on Good Morning America — to express to the girls the importance of believing in themselves. Based on her own personal experience, she said, they could do anything.
"I, Michelle Obama, at this stage in my life, have been at every, major important table that is important to be in," she said. "I have been at law firms. I have been working at the state level with mayors, with governors. I've worked with heads of nonprofits. I've worked in c-suites. I've gone to G summits. I've sat at State Dinners. I've been to palaces."
She continued: "I've been to every table you can imagine, and let me tell you, you are smart enough to be there."