Following Michelle Obama's address to the NAACP, right-wing media have selectively quoted or distorted her comments, used race-baiting headlines to cover her remarks, and manufactured outrage over her statement that "stubborn inequalities still exist" in America. In fact, Michelle Obama was correct that persistent inequality exists "in education and health, income and wealth," and her speech focused on improving the future for children, largely through her childhood obesity initiative.
Michelle Obama points out racial "inequalities still persist" and urged increased "intensity" in "fighting for a better future for our children"
Michelle Obama: "Stubborn inequalities still persist -- in education and health, in income and wealth." In a speech to the NAACP's annual convention, Michelle Obama stated that "stubborn inequalities still exist" in America, and that the NAACP's founders "would urge us to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren." From Michelle Obama's July 12 remarks to the NAACP National Convention:
So I know that I stand here today, and I know that my husband stands where he is today, because of this organization -- (applause) -- and because of the struggles and the sacrifices of all those who came before us.
But I also know that their legacy isn't an entitlement to be taken for granted. And I know it is not simply a gift to be enjoyed. Instead, it is an obligation to be fulfilled.
And when so many of our children still attend crumbling schools, and a black child is still far more likely to go to prison than a white child, I think the founders of this organization would agree that our work is not yet done. (Applause.)
When African American communities are still hit harder than just about anywhere by this economic downturn, and so many families are just barely scraping by, I think the founders would tell us that now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
When stubborn inequalities still persist -- in education and health, in income and wealth -- I think those founders would urge us to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
Right-wing media react to speech with outrage and race-baiting headlines
Hoft: Michelle Obama "told the racist leftists" at the NAACP "that 'America is still unequal.'" In a July 12 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote "The first black First Lady of the United States told the racist leftists at the 101st NAACP Convention today that- 'America is still unequal.'" Hoft posted part of Michelle Obama's speech to the NAACP, and wrote "Of course, the fact that Michelle Obama criticized America at the NAACP Convention surprises no one."
Fox Nation: "First Lady Tells NAACP: America Still Unequal." The Fox Nation posted video of Michelle Obama's speech to the NAACP under the headline "First Lady Tells NAACP: America Still Unequal." From the Fox Nation:
Drudge: "Michelle tells blacks to 'increase intensity." The Drudge Report linked to an ABC news story about Michelle Obama's speech with the headline "Michelle tells blacks to 'increase intensity.'" From the Drudge Report:
Racial disparities do still exist "in education and health, in income and wealth"
Racial inequalities in education are well documented. Numerous studies and books have been written about the persisting racial disparities in education. For instance, a 2007 UCLA report found that racial disparities in education are growing. A 2005 report showed that there is an increasing achievement gap between racial groups, and that there is a demonstrable gap in school quality among racial populations. Racial inequalities also persist in special education, school financing, and at all levels of education.
Kaiser Family Foundation: "Minority population groups receive worse care than Whites." In its 2007 report, "Key Facts: Race Ethnicity & Medical Care," the Kaiser Family Foundation stated that there is "compelling evidence of racial and ethnic differences in health insurance coverage, access to primary care, and treatment for specific medical conditions," and that "in many cases, minority population groups receive worse care than Whites, and for some measures, gaps in care are getting larger rather than smaller."
Racial income disparities have widened. Racial disparities in income have grown since the civil rights era, according to a 2007 report. Census data also shows persistent racial inequality in family income. From the U.S. Census: