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Michelle Obama’s Response to ‘Angry Black Woman’ Label: ‘Live My Life Out Loud’

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the first lady talked about her time at the White House, including the presidential election, how Congress did not support her husband and her hope for the country.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks with Oprah Winfrey.

Nearing the end of her historic eight-year tenure, First Lady Michelle Obama was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about her journey as America’s first African American first lady.

Their candid conversation in the White House, which aired Monday night on CBS, covered topics including the presidential election, Obama’s initiatives, her hope for America and how she dealt with name-calling and negativity.

Choosing to be Her Authentic Self

Obama first opened up about her experience as first lady during her 2015 commencement address at Tuskegee University in Alabama. In her speech, she explained how she eventually realized “the chatter, the name calling, the doubting” she endured as a Black woman during her husband’s 2008 White House campaign “was just noise.”

Obama also said in her speech, “Over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.’ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama.'”

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First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama: My Critics Don't Define Me

At Tuskegee University’s commencement ceremony the First Lady talked about race and how she was perceived during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Winfrey played a clip of Obama’s speech and asked her thoughts on being label as an “angry Black woman.”

“That was one of those things where you think, ‘Dang, you don’t even know me,’” Obama said. “You just sort of feel like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ And that’s the first blowback.”

She continued, “You think, ‘That is so not me.’ But then you sort of think, ‘Well, this isn’t about me. This is about the person or the people who write it. That’s just the truth.

“You start thinking, ‘Oh, wow, we’re so afraid of each other,’” she told Winfrey. “Color. Wealth. These things that don’t matter still play too much of a role in how we see one another.”

Obama continued, “[I]t’s sad because the things that least define us as people is the color of our skin and our bank accounts. It’s our values. It’s how we live our lives.”

She said she was determined to live out loud, so that people could see her authentic self.

“I thought, ‘Okay, well, let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves,’” Obama said. “And that’s what I want young people to do: Just live.”

Presidential Election

Obama said she indeed went to bed on election night without knowing the final results, as said in a prior interview. But the first lady said she kind of felt how things were going by the time she went to bed. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when she checked her iPhone the following morning and learned President-elect Donald Trump won the election.

“You know, this — this past election was challenging for me as a — as a citizen. To watch and experience. It was painful,” Obama told Winfrey.

An influential surrogate for Democratic candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama gave an emotional speech at rally in Manchester, N.H., in October. She denounced Trump’s behavior toward women without mentioning his name. It has been called a defining moment of the presidential campaign.

Related Story: Michelle Obama Slams Trump in Speech

“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said. “I cannot stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

The first lady commented that what was occurring in Trump’s presidential campaign was distorted politics.

“This is not normal,” she said. “This is not politics as usual.”

Obama told Winfrey she believed it was necessary for her to address the unprecedented rhetoric used in a presidential campaign.

“You can’t just stand before people and give a regular political speech,” she said.

“Words matter.”

Supportive of Transition … Even Though President Obama Wasn’t Supported

Obama told Winfrey she and President Obama are supportive of Trump’s transition into the presidency, without mentioning the president-elect’s name.

“Barack and I are so supportive of this transition,” she said. “Because no matter how we felt going into it, it is important for the health of this nation that we support the commander-in-chief.”

But Obama quickly added that it “wasn’t done when my husband took office, but we’re going high and this is what is best for the country.”

She continued, “We are going to be there for the next president and do whatever we have to do to make sure he is successful because if he succeeds we all succeed.”

Winfrey asked her to explain what she meant about support not being offered to President Obama.

“There were people who did not support his presidency,” Obama said.

“There were people in Congress. There were leaders in Congress who did not support his presidency, which was not something that was good for the country. It was good for politics, but it wasn’t good for the country. And that wasn’t the right way to approach it.”

Obama may be referring in part to what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) famously said in 2010: “Our top political priority over the next two years, should be to deny President Obama a second term.”

In regard to Melania Trump taking on the role of first lady, Obama told Winfrey that she didn’t give her any specific advice during her visit to the White House. But, she told Trump that “You really don’t know what you don’t know until you’re here” and said, “The door is always open.”

Obama also noted that Laura Bush was very supportive of her and her team.

A Question of Hope

President Obama’s election platform was built on hope for change.

“Do you think that this administration achieved that?” Winfrey asked the first lady.

Related Story: Michelle Obama: Five Crucial Points of Her Final Commencement Address

“Yes, I do,” Obama replied, “because we feel the difference now.”

“See, now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like. You know? Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept. And Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. I mean, he and I and so many believe that if you — what else do you have if you don’t have hope?”

This portion of Winfrey’s interview was released last week, and President-elect Trump responded to Obama’s comments on Saturday.

“We have tremendous hope, and we have tremendous promise and tremendous potential,” Trump said in Mobile, Ala., on the final stop of his “thank you” tour.

“And I actually think she made that statement not meaning it the way it came out,” Trump continued about the first lady.

According to The Hill, Trump noted that he met with the Obamas following his November 8 victory, saying of the first lady, “She could not have been nicer.”

President Obama made a short appearance during Winfrey’s interview with his wife, and he agreed that the nation achieved hope under his administration.

“History moves in cycles and what lasts is the impact what we’ve done has had in people’s mind and hearts and that continues,” he said.

The president also said what surprised him most about his wife as first lady of the U.S.

“The way in which she blended purpose and policy with fun so that she was able to reach beyond Washington on her health care initiatives, on her military family work was masterful.”

Obama confirmed she would not run for political office in the future.

“This is a hard job,” she said. “It requires a lot of sacrifice, it’s a weighty thing. The next family that comes in here, their lives will be turned upside down.”

Winfrey asked Obama what her desire is for the United States.

“My desire for this country is that we remain hopeful and we find a place in our hearts to love each other. It’s really simple.”

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29 comments


  • “it is a hard job, it requires a lot of sacrifice, it is a weighty thing?” Judicial Watch announced December 6 that it obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service revealing that its travel expenses for the First Family’s 2015 Hawaiian vacation cost taxpayers $1.2 million, which brings the total cost of the vacation trip to at least $4.8 million. This was the Obamas’ eighth Hawaiian family vacation. The trip has become an annual event for the Obamas. To date, Obama’s and his family’s travel expenses total at least $85,029,819. It was announced today that more than half of Americans did not take vacation time owed to them for fear of losing their jobs or having too much work to do. Extravagant vacations by Michelle which also included her mother cost American taxpayers a lot of money. They should have led by example but chose to lead by living the opulent as much as possible until the very end. So much for sacrifice and relating to the American people

    • You’ve pulled together a panache of facts and fake news, but most of it comes from the extremist foundation funded, $35 million budget, Judicialwatch.org.

      Here are some more facts. The president is from Hawaii. Hawaii is one of the 50 United States.

      Unemployment is 4.9%, mortgages are 3.5%, gas is $2, we’re almost completely disengaged from the two illegal wars started by W. We’re almost completely recovered from W’s recession, the worst since 1934.

      The man deserves a vacation. The Secret Service probably needs to be disbanded.

      • I’m not saying that they shouldn’t take vacations or that he wasn’t entitled to vacations, but it did seem like they took an awful lot of them. I don’t have any facts to compare to previous Presidents and their families, just going on what I saw on the news.

        That being said, I still think that Ms. Obama has a lot of class. I was saddened to read that she doesn’t have any political ambitions. I think the country needs more people like her.

    • Any vacation a President takes will cost the taxpayers millions…It doesn’t matter the president.

    • There always seems to be the presumption by some that democrat Presidents take too many vacations. Ronald Reagan took his fair share of vacations out to California to spend time on his ranch. But of course, old Ronnie could do no wrong in the eyes of many. Maybe Donald Trump will do taxpayers a favor and pay for all of his trips out of pocket, though I’ll bet the “Orange One” will take advantage of all the benefits he can while claiming otherwise. Every President in recent memory was burned out by the stress of the job. So, they take vacations to get away from Washington DC. But, no President is ever truly on vacation because no matter what, he continues to get his intelligence briefings and he has to be attune with what’s happening in the country domestically.

  • She truly is a woman to be admired and loved. I will miss her in the White House, but suspect she will not disappear quietly.

  • When I voted for Obama in 2008, it was only for the sake of history falsely believing that he would be the first “Black” president, but realized that he was only “black” in his soul. My vote was for Michelle, her mother and daughters to occupy the White House that Black slaves built and slaved in. Her rise from a Southside Chicago ghetto was miraculous and required dedication and devotion by her fabulous parents.

    Every Black woman in AmeriKKKa SHOULD BE ANGRY–if she’s not, she’s is in denial or retarded. You’re at the bottom of the totem pole with everyone, including racist white, Asian, and Latina women pissing, hissing, and sh*tting on you (Black men like O’Bama not giving a damn about it), and we’re supposed to be a happy plantation mammy grinning from ear to ear!

    Michelle was SILENCED by her Uncle Tom husband –as a Black woman, she didn’t LIVE OUT LOUD in the right way. Instead of playing a retarded clown role with a subtle Jewish racist, Jimmy Fallon, she should have been speaking OUT LOUD against her critics and showing STRENGTH. A strength that racist, sexist, and misogynist AmeriKKKa FORCES us to develop early.

    UPPITY?? Both O’Bama’s BOWED DOWN LOW UI appease white folks. I’m wondering how s/he both supported the Obamination of gay marriage, but hypocritically seemed shocked by tRump’s heterosexual sexist bragging! I’ve been in corporate law firms with filthy rich lawyers to know that most of what he was bragging about its true. Money-grubbing whores chase these fat, ugly, married rich psychopaths and allow them to grab and get as much p*$$y as their money can buy. Law firms are the best little whorehouses in any city. As a righteous, spiritual Black woman, it’s hard to keep a job with these ugly, fat, rich married ogres in these whorehouses called law firms, because their motto is: “If you don’t PLAY, you can’t STAY!”

    Like her husband, Michelle was a disappointment because she skirted most race-related issues and set a poor example for Black women. Her tact was PUT UP (with white racist bullsh*t) and SHUT UP! That’s how az-kissing Uncle Toms like the O’Bama’s, Clearance ThomAss, Colon Powell, Vernon “Cover Up” Jordan succeed.

    • Every Black woman in AmeriKKKa SHOULD BE ANGRY–if she’s not, she’s is in denial or retarded. — YOUR QUOTE.

      Here’s the thing, being ‘angry’ and being an ‘angry Black woman’ is completely different.

    • Perhaps the reason you found it “hard to keep a job” at a law firm might be that your hateful attitude overshadowed the fact that you claim to be “a righteous, spiritual Black woman.”

  • “Angry black woman” maybe because she complained that her husband’s nomination was the first time she’s been proud of her country?

    “Angry black woman” because she complained, during the 2008 campaign, on 60 Minutes,
    “as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”

    Angry black woman because she said, of Hillary in 2008, “If you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House!”

    And that’s just from memory, no research.

    Duh!

    • You have no clue, reibson. Every time I read your comments I am more and more convinced that you don’t want to learn about what minorities face in this country and have no desire to see equality and justice for all.

    • reibson:

      She wasn’t “complaining” about anything when she made that statement—what she meant by it was that she couldn’t believe that Americans actually overcame their racism long enough to actually vote for a black President and put him in office. I don’t think she meant that she had literally never been proud of her country in her entire life. Obviously, you’re not African-American, or you would have understood where she was coming from with these statements. Instead of just slamming her for saying them period, why not try to understand why she felt she even had to say any of these things in the first place? And how does saying any of that make her an “angry black woman”? Usually,historically, white people have always defined an “angry black man or woman” as a black person who dosen’t agree with every little thing they say, and who is not there to make them fell comfortable. That’s all that phrase really means. You sound more angry at her for saying things you didn’t agree with. Sorry, but a black person isn’t “angry” simply because they don’t agree with you on certain things. They don’t have to, just because you think they do.

  • Try and internet image search, Angry Michelle Obama, and then try the same with Angry Laura Bush.

    The difference amazed me.

    • Yeah, one was a librarian and the other was targeted by racist right wing groups including the Tea Party and individuals like the president elect.

      • I am so tired of the Obama’s saying they will help Trump and want him to be successful. After seeing his campaign and who he has selected for his cabinet – I hope to God he is not successful. I think reproductive choice and birth control are nice, as is a minimum wage, health insurance certainly has helped my family and free speech, even for the haters, should remain. So yes, I have great respect for the Obama’s -they put up with a lot and did good for the country despite it. Bush didn’t and I promise you the hell Pence and Ryan are about to plunge us in to will be a spectacular one.

        For reibson and John – do a comparison to the 43 white presidents and what they spent and what it cost us – then complain. And just wait, when we add up Trump’s tab in two years between his family in NY, his sons and daughters doing stuff on the government tab and the scandals – it will cost us a lot more.

        • They resent the Obamas because they’re Black. If you look at right wing sites, they sputter with self righteous racist indignation over this accomplished president and his dignified family. Stupid white people can be played over and over by leveraging racism. It’s been done since the founding of the republic. The founders kept slavery legal and fools who would never have the means to own another human being and would be condemned to a lifetime of competition with free labor went along with it all the way to dying by the hundreds of thousands for the slave owners in the Civil War. Look at all the millions of dummies who will be right back where they started with no access to health insurance. TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

          And I’m sure fast food minimum wage billionaire Puzder is going to help the weak minded as secretary of labor. TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

        • Lyons:

          They’re only going along with the program because they want the transition to be smooth, and for the American people to feel that at least one thing is going right. But I’m sure they’re really thinking behind closed doors, “We’re leaving this stupid, arrogant, idiot reality-TV clown fool that dosen’t know jack about running a country in charge of the White House? He’s gonna destroy all of our legacies, for God’s sake!”

  • It’s easy to be angry and belligerent. What takes strength is remaining dignified and composed when clueless critics are calling you names and making racist comments about you. Michelle Obama has been an example and role model of how to behave with grace, dignity and self respect. I’m proud to have had her as my First Lady. I will miss her. My hope is that she will not disappear from view and will continue to champion family issues.

  • In general, I’m not a fan of President Obama’s policies.
    So, I’m probably not much a fan of Mrs. Obama’s politics, either.

    That being said, Mrs. Obama has always struck me a bright, engaged, kind, and genuine.
    Either she fooled me or she’s a genuinely lovely lady………

    • I don’t think Princeton U/Harvard Law graduate Michelle Obama is interested in fooling anyone, so your assessment is right on target.

      Had hapless Hillary had one quarter of her character and convinced her to run as VP, Clinton might not be kicking road apples down the wooded path in Chappequa.

  • From the many comments here and on all different kinds of media throughout the Obama administration, I’ve never quite landed on what the expectations were of them from both the white and black perspectives. Whites seemed to fear an uprising of minorities and Blacks as if the only focus would be on race related issues. Both perspectives present as though there was a magic wand to be waved and there would be a new America. My take is that both the President and First Lady understand that true change and progress is going to come from the younger generations. Mrs. Obama has planted those seeds both figuratively and literally as she has spent so much time with children and young families not only offering hope but by providing a role model of someone who did just as she said, ” Live out Loud”. Like all of us, I’m sure she harbors some anger on some issues, but unlike most people she has taken positive action. As First Lady, she has been one of the most public, positive influences in that role in my lifetime. I hope she remains in the public eye and continues to offer hope and influence the next generations to come. Kudos and thanks to a first class First Lady.

  • “I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said. “I cannot stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

    And yet she had no problem electing and returning somebody to the Whitehouse whose spouse has done much worse while in the Whitehouse.

    • Hello – Bill Clinton is a grown man and made his own choices for which Hilary is not responsible. He had consensual affairs – there was no rape or assault as there was with Trump per the women’s testimonies. Trump cheated on the first two of his wives with their successors – what is it with the narcissists that what they do is not the same as it is when other people do it? Bill Clinton was not running for President.

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