Michelle Obama opens up about being the first Black family in the White House: “Making mistakes was not an option”

It's true that everybody Black is held to a higher standard.

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Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama discusses her forthcoming memoir titled, ‘Becoming’, during the 2018 American Library Association Annual Conference on June 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)


While our current First Lady Melania Trump can shrug off wearing a tone deaf “I don’t really care” Zara jacket during a surprise visit to the center of the family separation crisis at the southern border in McAllen, Texas, our forever First Lady Michelle Obama clearly didn’t have the luxury to make those types of missteps.

Friday, while speaking at the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans, Obama opened up about race relations in this country and the elevated expectations that often come with being “the first.”

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“Barack and I knew very early that we would be measured by a different yardstick,” Obama told Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden of her husband’s time as the first Black president in U.S. history.

“Making mistakes was not an option for us. Not that we didn’t make mistakes, but we had to be good — no, we had to be outstanding — at everything we did….When you’re the first, you’re the one that’s laying the red carpet down for others to follow.”

The former FLOTUS also discussed the dangers of seeing people only for the color of their skin.

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“It’s just a shame that sometimes people will see me, and they will only see my color, and then they’ll make certain judgments about that,” she said. “That’s dangerous, for us to dehumanize each other in that way. We are all just people.”

This appearance comes just a few months before the release of her upcoming memoir, Becoming, which explores her journey from a little girl growing up on the South Side of Chicago to one of the most powerful women in the world living in the White House. The book will also touch on her pre-First Lady years as a successful lawyer, executive and mother.

Becoming, hits bookstores in November.

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