Michelle Obama tells the truth at Tuskegee’s graduation
By Roger Caldwell
The reality of being Black in America is not understood by White people, and many prefer to act like we don’t exist, or that we will eventually disappear. Racism is fundamental and systemic in every aspect of American life, and everyone is classified by the color of their skin. In the Black community, light skin (or yellow skin) is considered more successful on every level when compared to darker skin. This is a kind of sickness where White supremacy exists in the Black community.
At Tuskegee University commencement’s address, first lady Michelle Obama shared her experiences, her frustrations, her hopes for Blacks in America, and the truth of being the first Black family in the White House. Her truth-telling was powerful and forceful, and delivered with no apology.
“They don’t know that part of you. Instead, they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives – the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” – and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country” says first lady Michelle Obama in her speech at Tuskegee’s commencement address.
The Black graduates at Tuskegee understood every word that came from the first lady’s mouth, and were ecstatic that she was there to tell the truth. When Mrs. Obama talked about the name-calling her family has been forced to endure, conservatives will say the first lady is delusional, confused, and bitter or angry. But Mrs. Obama was at the University to tell the truth, and it is time for Black leaders to be honest.
Mrs. Obama’s commencement address was framed and tailored for a Black University, and conservatives and the majority of White people cannot relate to the Black experience, and they feel left out. The conservatives think that the first lady is telling the Black graduates to despise and hold a grudge against the White race, but her message is about love, and Black graduates born to be great in America.
The first lady is living proof that our dreams can only happen in a great country where anything in life is possible. Conservatives think the first lady is playing the race card to divide the country, but instead, she is telling the graduates that America is the land of opportunity. It has problems, but if you take advantage of your diploma and education, you can rise to any height, and become the president of the United States.
President Obama and Mrs. Obama took advantage of their education, and through hard work and determination, they will go down in American history as the first Black American family in the White House. By staying true to themselves, and proud of their race, they are bringing change to America and the world.
The reactionary right is saying that Mrs. Obama was playing the race card, showing a lack of appreciation for her opportunities, and doing more damage to race relations in the country since George Wallace. But, truth-telling will never be easy as the first lady, and the first Black family has always been able to rise above the fabrications, challenges and critics.
The truth will set us free, and it is important to keep hope alive by being vigilant and committed to greatness. “They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose” says the first lady.