Michelle Obama Once Teased for Talking ‘Like a White Girl’

Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times, March 20, 2009

For her own Women’s History Month assignment, first lady Michelle Obama visited Anacostia High School, on the poor side of town, where on Thursday she surprised a group of students. One of her goals is to demystify the White House and make it more accessible to the people who live here.

Mrs. Obama told the youngsters she felt isolated from an institution in her own community when she was growing up and that she suspected they may view the White House and the Capitol the way she saw the University of Chicago as a young girl–a place for other people. She shared her story of how she was taunted for talking “like a white girl.”

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Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Mrs. Obama told the students that while she lived near the university, as a kid, she never even took a “walk on campus.”

“And I didn’t think they wanted to have anything to do with me. So we never connected–me and many kids like me in our community, and that big old institution,” said Mrs. Obama, who became a U. of C. Medical Center executive.

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Mrs. Obama told the students it’s cool to be smart.

“And I didn’t care whether it was cool because I remember there were kids around my neighborhood who would say, ‘Ooh, you talk funny, you talk like a white girl.’ I heard that growing up my whole life. I was like, I don’t even know what that means, but you know what, I’m still getting my A.”

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