Former First Lady Obama during her final #MichelleObamaPodcast went down memory lane on her childhood and what it was like growing up on the Southside of Chicago.
During the podcast, shared exclusively on the root, Michelle Obama joined by brother, former basketball coach Craig Robinson and mum Marian Robinson, recalled a terrifying moment when a then 10 or 11 year old Craig, now 58, was accused of stealing his own bike.
Craig who had been riding a new bright yellow 10-speed bike bought by his parents got stopped by the police around the South Side of Chicago. According to him, one of the officers grabbed the bike after accusing him of stealing it. His pleas that he owned the bike fell on deaf ears as one of the officers grabbed it and wouldn’t let it go.
“I was always taught that the police are your friends…and they’ll believe the truth, and I was tellin’ ‘em the truth and this guy would not believe me,” Robinson recounted.
“I was like ‘Oh, you got this all wrong, this is my bike. Don’t worry, this isn’t a stolen bike,’ and [the cop] would not believe me, and I was absolutely heartbroken. And I finally said to him, ‘Listen, you can take me to my house, and I will prove to you, this is my bike.” Craig recalls.
The police didn’t believe him and proceeded to his home with his bike at the back of their car. There, his mom, Marian, made it known to them that they had made a serious mistake, Face 2 Face reports.
“I could tell [the cops] were trying to ask me questions that would trip me up,” Craig recalled. “If I wasn’t so sure that that bike was mine and showed any kind of reticence, I could see them taking me off to the police station, not calling mom until after I’ve been, you know, booked or whatever they do.”
Michelle then proceeded to explain the challenges of being born into a Black family: “Nobody thinks about, you know, the fact that we all come from good families that are trying to teach values, but when you leave the safety of your home and go out into the street, where being Black is, is a crime in and of itself, we have all had to learn how to operate outside of our homes with a level of caution, and fear, because you never know,” she said.
Interestingly, the police officers who drove Craig home that fateful day were Black but Marian believes that their “discriminatory treatment was part of a culture among police.”
“…They were acting exactly the same as any other policeman,” she said. “It’s almost like, this is what they thought they were, how they were thought they were supposed to act.”
Police brutality and racism have sadly witnessed a devastating spike in recent times.