The revelation comes about two-thirds into “Becoming,” a Netflix documentary about Obama’s tour to promote her memoir, according to a review by The Daily Beast. She described feeling betrayed by Democratic voters after Trump’s victory.
“It takes some energy to go high, and we were exhausted from it. Because when you are the first black anything…” she said, referring to her famous motto. “So the day I left the White House and I write about how painful it was to sit on that [inauguration] stage. A lot of our folks didn’t vote. It was almost like a slap in the face.”
Obama did not say much about Trump voters but expressed disappointment in voters who did not participate in the 2016 election.
“I understand the people who voted for Trump,” she stated. “The people who didn’t vote at all, the young people, the women, that’s when you think, man, people think this is a game. It wasn’t just in this election. Every midterm. Every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up. After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. That’s my trauma.”
Although Michelle did not mention Black voters explicitly, many believed she was wrongfully blaming the Black community. Her comments caused a stir on Twitter.
“Instead of blaming Black voters for not propping up a Democratic Party that takes our vote for granted without offering anything that benefits our community, Michelle Obama should blame her husband for signing a Blue Lives Matter bill while Black children were being massacred,” tweeted one person.
“So Michelle still with this propaganda that Miss Hillary lost because of us. If white people only voted for her 37%, why is that Black people fault? She need to head on with this BS,” said another critic.
“It is telling what voters we blame individually versus the systemic barriers they face. You could blame the Democratic Party or Clinton campaign for not adequately motivating black voters last cycle. Could blame voting laws that place burdens — but alas,” New York Times national politics reporter Astead Wesley tweeted.
Her husband expressed a similar sentiment before Trump was elected. In September 2016, former President Barack Obama said he would be personally insulted if voters did not go to the polls.
“I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” Obama said during his last keynote address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “You want to give me a good send-off, go vote.”
Although Clinton did not fare as well as former President Barack Obama did, she still held a sizable advantage over Trump. According to Pew Research, Clinton received 88 percent of the Black vote, compared with Trump’s 8 percent. She only received 37 percent of white voters in 2016.
Michelle also talked about race when she recalled having tea with former first lady Laura Bush before Barack’s inauguration. During the visit, she noticed the White House butlers were mostly older Black men wearing tuxedoes. Michelle was worried her daughters would associate Black men with servitude, so she changed their uniforms and loosened other policies.
“I am the former first lady of the United States and also the descendant of slaves,” she said. “It’s important to keep that truth right there. My grandfather’s grandmother was in bondage. People have been taught to believe in the ultimate inferiority of people because of the color of their skin.”
Netflix will begin streaming “Becoming” on Wednesday.