"I don't want to have to worry about [Malia] entering a world where she has to worry about how people would treat her because of the color of her skin," the former first lady told CBS This Morning

By Virginia Chamlee
May 10, 2021 06:38 PM
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With her 22-year-old daughter, Malia Obama, set to graduate college this year, former First Lady Michelle Obama is excited for the next step in the lives of both of her girls — but she's also occasionally nervous about a world in which they will soon be on their own.

Obama, 57, spoke about the next chapter in her older daughter's life in an interview with CBS This Morning's Gayle King that aired Monday.

"I almost forgot that this year, this summer, they're going to be 23 and 20," Obama said of Malia and Sasha, a college sophomore. "I mean, I'm just like 'Stop there.' I don't even have teenagers anymore. So I am excited for her next chapter. That's why I want to be as excited as every parent."

But, Obama continued, "I don't want to have to worry about [Malia] entering a world where she has to worry about how people would treat her because of the color of her skin."

The former first lady added that she looks forward to the many "firsts" for her eldest but would be more comfortable if she was confident in her daughter's safety as a Black woman.

"I am excited, but I'd like to be more excited — to know that as she goes out and gets her first apartment and rides the subway somewhere, that they don't make assumptions about her based on the color of her skin," Obama said. "That she's not at risk, out there in the world as an adult, because she's a Black woman."

Elsewhere in the interview, Obama said she breathed "a sign of relief" after a jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd — but that "there's still work to be done" when it comes to social justice and racial inequality.

She thinks about how Malia and Sasha might be harmed by racial discrimination as well, she said.

"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."

michelle obama
From left: Malia, Michelle and Sasha Obama
| Credit: Courtesy Obama Robinson Family Archive

Both Obama daughters have been spending increased time at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With restrictions easing and the former first couple now vaccinated, Obama said on CBS This Morning she's open to doing things with others — but there is a primary requirement for those wishing to spend time with she and her family: "Be vaccinated."

"You want to hang out with us? Get your vaccine," Obama said. "Get all of it, finish it up, then we can talk."

While Malia and Sasha have largely stayed out of the spotlight since their family left the White House in 2017, the former first daughters were among among the tens of thousands of demonstrators this summer, masked and without fanfare.

Former President Barack Obama discussed their protesting late last year, when he spoke about his memoir A Promised Land and life in quarantine with his wife and daughters.

He told PEOPLE then that both young women felt "the need to participate" in the midst of nationwide demonstrations against police misconduct following the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.

"I didn't have to give them a lot of advice because they had a very clear sense of what was right and what was wrong and [of] their own agency and the power of their voice and the need to participate," Obama, 59, said. "Malia and Sasha found their own ways to get involved with the demonstrations and activism that you saw with young people this summer, without any prompting from Michelle and myself, on their own initiative."

"They didn't do it in a way where they were looking for limelight. They were very much in organizer mode." the former president said, adding, "I could not have been prouder of them."