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Oh, you wretched tallists!

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new,” Michelle Obama, who is 5’11”, said.

It’s a little hard to tell what her complaint is here. It’s racist to expect a black woman to help? Or she’s miffed that no-one recognized her? Or if they did, didn’t come up and say anything to her? (Reminder: that’s an actual shot from this famous trip to Target).

Since the article is about everyday racism, I’m going to assume it’s that first thing.

The internet says she’s 5’10”, not 5’11”, which makes her exactly the same height as me. And, lemme tell you, I have completely lost track of the number of times strangers have asked me to reach things off shelves. It’s a thing short people sometimes ask of tall people. It’s not a put-down, it’s a little interpersonal gracenote of community feeling.

I had a black co-worker once who made a formal complaint of racism when he was given the exact same shitty treatment as everyone else by one particularly shitty supervisor (you know the kind, the harmless asshole boss who makes a big show of looking at his watch when you get back five minutes late from lunch).

Do black people really think white people are super awesome to each other and only rotten to them? Do they not see us being rotten to each other?

The president told his own experiences. “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,” Obama told the magazine.

Pff! Right! Like this guy has ever had a job that honest.


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: December 17, 2014, 10:17 pm

I’m having difficulty understanding how a commoner was able to penetrate the Secret Service Protection Detail screen to get close enough to her to even ask the question.

Comment from Mr. Thickety Thick from Thicktown Thickania
Time: December 17, 2014, 10:28 pm

Lookit the ballcap and glasses: she’s not inviting recognition (that look on her face isn’t inviting ANYTHING). But I think Skandia’s right, even the lax SS of today isn’t going to let anyone near.
Why can’t they make up sob stories with just a HINT of plausibility?

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: December 17, 2014, 10:56 pm

Like the Secret Service let anyone within 20 feet of her

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: December 17, 2014, 10:56 pm

She didn’t have an entire ham hanging halfway out of her jowls, so how would anybody recognize her?

Comment from BJM
Time: December 17, 2014, 11:52 pm

I’m sure both Obamas have faced racism in their lives, there are a lot of assholes out there…but Com’on…Skandia nails it.

They really think we are as stupid as their base.

I too am 5’10” and am always fetching things off shelves for L.O.L.’s and short folks. I’m happy to do so. I’m also often approached in a store as if I am an employee because I try to look half-way pulled together when I go out.

OT…but you have to see this:


The WH is just trolling us now.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 18, 2014, 12:24 am

Che. Swell.

Comment from dissent555
Time: December 18, 2014, 12:27 am

I totally believe the story about Obama being asked to get someone coffee. There are loads of liberal elitist racists at those highbrow establishments.

Comment from dissent555
Time: December 18, 2014, 12:31 am

@ BJM – prima facie evidence of our liberal elitist lizard overlords in active plotting. Check out that ray gun on the desk!!!!!

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: December 18, 2014, 12:40 am

I suppose Mao is on the other wall.

Comment from Nina
Time: December 18, 2014, 1:47 am

Being 5′ 2″ standing up straight, I promise to never again ask someone taller than I to reach something for me in case it might be racist.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: December 18, 2014, 1:53 am

Do black people really think white people are super awesome to each other and only rotten to them?

Sadly, about 80% percent of them do. It is automatic for them. Every slight or criticism no matter how slight is the result of racism. As a Human Resources Manager, I saw this again and again. Even guys who have reached the level of the Obama’s suffer from this. However, it’s really very good for their egos, as any mistake or failing didn’t really happen you see; the problem was purely the result of racism. If you think about Moochelle’s comments from this perspective, you can see that whether it was lack of being recognized, being asked to “work like a slave” taking items off shelves, or whatever the hell made her feel slighted, it was because of conscious or unconscious racism.

I personally suspect the obvious: the reason she wasn’t acknowledged as First Lady is that she didn’t look or act like one.

Comment from Ripley
Time: December 18, 2014, 3:57 am

I’m with you Weasel. As it happens, I sometimes shop at the same Target as this “incident.” I am also female, professional, and 5’10” as well. I also have been asked by shorter women (of all backgrounds — this is a very diverse part of Northern Virginia) to get things off those same shelves. As you said, women do that with each other all the time. It happens wherever I go — I do it back in Germany. However, it has never occurred to me to be offended when someone asks me for help.

No one who was dressing like she did would be mistaken for a Target employee anyway. I also think it’s not only perfectly plausible that no one looked at her closely, but also that in the DC area you tend not to be too surprised even if you do recognize someone. Not that first ladies often go off to the Alexandria Target, but I have seen congresscritters in there. Still, most of the time, when shopping I’m shopping, not looking that closely at other shoppers anyway.

I agree, a short person asked a tall person for help retrieving something — not where the skin lotion section was or if something was still on sale. This is manufactured outrage.

Comment from Ripley
Time: December 18, 2014, 4:07 am

also also

As I recall (as this was in the papers at the time, I obviously wasn’t there), she didn’t have a large Secret Service detail that day, and they were shadowing but not hovering. She did have an aide nearby at least, and for all I know it was security.

Comment from JC
Time: December 18, 2014, 5:09 am

For the love of God. When I go to the grocery and I find a LOL or someone in a wheelchair I make a point of being in the area. (Me, MAWG, 6’1″, not NBA height by any means, but I’m happy to play Bumble. It’s ’cause I’m white.

Comment from JC
Time: December 18, 2014, 5:10 am

For the love of God. When I go to the grocery and I find a LOL or someone in a wheelchair I make a point of being in the area. (Me, MAWG, 6’1″, not NBA height by any means, but I’m happy to play Bumble. It’s ’cause I’m white, innit (retires to cave suffering from bad tooth)

Comment from Doubting Rich
Time: December 18, 2014, 3:35 pm

As a 6’2″ man I am often asked to reach top shelves. I have even done so for employees of the shop!

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: December 18, 2014, 4:47 pm

I personally suspect the obvious: the reason she wasn’t acknowledged as First Lady is that she didn’t look or act like one.
Darn tootin’. If Laura Bush had visited Target, she’d have been noticed. (That’s Target, which is usually pretty nice. In Walmart, not the classiest joint in America, people would have thought she was a member of the Walton family come to examine the store.)

And how come the Kenyan and spouse didn’t bring this stuff up in 2008 or 2012? Answer: They were downplaying the racial angle to get the white low-information voter on their side. Now, since they’re not running for anything, the gloves can come off.

Classless clowns.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: December 18, 2014, 4:53 pm

Oh, a commenter at JWF referred to her as “the First Ferengie [sic].” I’m totally stealing that.

Comment from Davem123
Time: December 18, 2014, 9:43 pm

I prefer this photo of Che:


“The passion of the Che” (snort).

I’m 6’4”. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked to take stuff down from on high. Or have smacked my head into something painful.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 18, 2014, 10:04 pm

I’m 5’1″ and have never in my life asked someone I wasn’t married to to get something down from a high shelf. Sometimes this means my husband has to make an extra trip to the grocery store because those motherfuckers keep many foods we want on the top shelves. In BOTH Kroger and HEB, the exact same thing will frequently be on the top shelf where I can’t reach it. I haven’t had gingersnaps in five years because of this collusion between these heightist corporations.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 18, 2014, 10:36 pm

Mrs P! We were wondering the other day whatever became of you. Haven’t seen your smiling ASCII in ages.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: December 19, 2014, 2:48 am

Was she scowling? Because, it’s not The First Laydee if she’s not scowling…

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: December 19, 2014, 2:57 am

Just for purposes of excluding you from any of the number of ex-pats that I know who live in Jolly Olde, I knew this girl in high school who was tall; we were in the same class; she could react to this statement: Donna got rooked by Phyllis…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 19, 2014, 8:33 am

Nope, ExpressoBold. Not me.

Comment from Ripley
Time: December 20, 2014, 12:02 am

I happened on her 2012 account of the incident as related to Letterman and as reported at Politico. My how teh narrative has changed..

“That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”

“As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.””

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 20, 2014, 5:44 pm

Hi sweas 🙂 I’m fine, just busy. Got a three-year-old at home and a project at work that has new crises every day. I look forward to the holidays because I can get work done without people popping into my office with new problems for me to solve!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 20, 2014, 11:50 pm

Wow, has it really been three years?

Comment from ZZMike
Time: December 22, 2014, 6:07 am

She’s just pissed that somebody actually asked her to do something. Let’s pretend the lady had asked Laura Bush, and try to imagine what would happen next.

Comment from Charles Jaco, le journaliste Americaine
Time: December 22, 2014, 3:43 pm

There is absolutely no truth to the vicious slander that the items retrieved from the high shelves included a few bales of cotton balls.
I will also take this opportunity to emphasize just how lovely and proportional the Adam’s apple is.
And look at those ARMS!

Gotta run, it’s the scuds coming in again! Toodles!

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Time: December 31, 2014, 4:36 am

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