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Before she became first lady of the United States, she was a hospital executive and a lawyer who graduated from Ivy League schools.
But Michelle Obama said that wasn’t enough to stop people from judging her as a black woman before anything else.
During a discussion Tuesday before the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Obama was asked to describe which “glass shards” hurt the most when she busted through a glass ceiling after becoming the nation’s first black first lady.
“The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut,” Obama said, according to the Denver Post. “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”
Obama recalled being called an “ape in heels” by two West Virginia officials celebrating President Trump’s victory. She also noted people have made disparaging remarks about her rear end.
But the former first lady openly acknowledged the sting of such comments because otherwise, she said, it would let her attackers off the hook.
“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said. “We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”
Obama said women should own their battle wounds and use them to encourage younger women behind them.
“I am a strong woman because of other strong women,” she said.
Obama largely steered clear of politics during her discussion, focusing mainly on education, health, nutrition and other topics she advocated for as first lady. She also repeated assertions that she has no plans to run for public office.
After she and former President Obama left the White House in January, the couple continued to live in Washington, where their younger daughter, Sasha, goes to high school.
Their older daughter, Malia, is preparing to start college at Harvard this fall. The Obamas recently purchased the home they had been renting.