A Target customer asked Michelle Obama to help her grab an item during a trip to the mega retailer back in 2011. In an interview with People Magazine, the First Lady talks about her own experiences as a black woman and why she believes the customer’s simple request may have been influenced by racial stereotypes.

In her highly publicized Target trip, Michelle Obama said that not a single customer approached her other than one woman who asked her to grab an item off the shelf for her. The First Lady believes that despite being the wife of the Commander-in-Chief, people will always see her first as a helping hand due to the color of her skin.

In the same interview, Michelle Obama also talks about similar incidents with her husband and how he was once mistaken for a valet when he wore a tux for a black-tie event.

She described these experiences as the “regular course of life” for African-Americans and is something that the country direly needs to overcome.

She also praised athletes like LeBron James for taking a stance on the Michael Brown and Eric Garner case.

The interview has quickly drawn comments from people on both sides of the aisle. Supporters believe the First Lady is merely echoing a truth that white Americans will never and often refuse to understand. Critics, however, is bashing her for making the issue about race. Numerous commenters have pointed out that Michelle Obama stands at 5’11” and anyone at that height would get asked by a shorter person to grab an item off a high shelf for them. Many have also pointed to their own experiences of being asked to grab something from a shelf despite not being black.

Whether you believe a Target customer asking Michelle Obama for help reaching an item is racist or not, it is certainly one of those stories that create a heavily opinionated debate on a highly sensitive topic.

[photo credit: studio08denver]