This struck her especially while sitting in her booth during the State of the Union address delivered by her husband before Congress. Obama was speaking on Tuesday on the topic of “diversity” at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.
She also alleged that “people don’t trust politics” because there are too many white men in Congress and especially in the Republican Party.
Michelle Obama introduced her talk by saying that “we should question” gatherings or meetings where “people look alike”. She said: “We should be working actively to mix it up… so that we’re getting a real broad range of perspectives on every issue.”
She described the physical appearance of Republican and Democratic Representatives in starkly racial terms, calling it a “real dichotomy”. According to her, “it’s a feeling of colour, almost. On one side of the room, it’s literally grey and white. Literally. That’s the colour palette on one side of the room. On the other side of the room, there’re yellows, and blues and whites and greens. Physically there’s a difference in colour… in the tone. Because one side, all men. All white. (Laughs.) On the other side, some women, some people of colour. And whenever I was sitting, I would always have a guest in that booth, and I was always the most embarrassed at the beginning when people would see that. Because I’d say that, is it just me, am I looking at how governance works?… I look at that and I go: No wonder, no wonder we struggle, no wonder people don’t trust politics. We’re not even noticing what these rooms look like.”
Obama also suggested that white men should be replace at all levels of society, saying: “Until we are ready to fight for that, people have to be willing to give up their seats to make room or you need to be ready to add more…”
In response, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, rejected the ex-First Lady’s allegations, stating that “it’s unfortunate Michelle Obama would disregard the contributions of conservative women and people of all backgrounds with one sweeping, false accusation”. She pointed out that not only is the head of the RNC a woman, but that there were 14 minority Republicans in the House and four in the Senate. In addition, there are currently 24 Republican congresswomen and five female Republican senators.