I don’t have as much time to comment on the Obamas’ remarks on their own experiences with racism as I wish I did. I think their relating of their experiences constitutes what somebody or other referred to as a “teachable moment” that I wish more would heed. I’ve seen quite a bit of smirking about them in the right-leaning blogosphere and punditry.
The reality is that many black folk experience events differently than white folk do. I don’t know what happened at Target that day but I have no doubt of the reality that Mrs. Obama experienced it as she said she did—as racism.
Young black men experience their encounters with the police differently than I, an old white man, do even when the same things happen to us. So there are two distinct things going on: some of their encounters with police are actually different from mine and even when our encounters are the same they experience them differently.
One size does not fit all. There’s no single solution to both of these issues and both need to be addressed.