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President, first lady open up about personal experiences with racial prejudice

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo Credit: Getty Images / YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images

In a candid interview with People magazine, Barack and Michelle Obama opened up about their experiences with racial prejudice both before and after they moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before he was America's commander-in-chief, the first lady said in the 30-minute Dec. 10 interview, "Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs."

Michelle Obama recalled a woman asking her, after she'd already become first lady, to help "take something off a shelf" while shopping at Target. She also described a time when her husband was asked, while wearing a tuxedo at a "black-tie dinner," to get coffee.

"There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys," the president told the magazine.

The interview comes in the wake of national protests spurred by grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Obama said his "small irritations" pale in comparison to the injustices previous generations and less privileged Americans today have experienced.

"It's one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It's another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress," the president said.


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