Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about her experience with discrimination growing up on the South Side of Chicago, calling out the trend of "white flight" in predominantly diverse communities.
"White flight" is a trend in which white people move out of culturally diverse communities in masses, which is largely fueled by racial profiling.
"As we moved in, white folks moved out, because they were afraid of what our families represented," Obama said during the Obama Foundation Summit on Tuesday.
The summit was held in Chicago, where Obama and her brother, Craig Robinson, grew up. The pair discussed how their family assimilated to the neighborhood, "doing everything we were supposed to do and better," yet it wasn't enough to keep white people from leaving.
"I always stop there when I talk about this out in the world, because I want to remind white folks that y'all were running from us, you know?" the former first lady said at the Chicago event. "This family, with all the values that you read about."
Even now, Obama said people are "still running" from people of color in general.
"You were running from us, and you're still running, because we're no different than the immigrant families that are moving in, the families in Pilsen, the families that are coming from other places to try to do better," Obama said. Pilsen is a home to a large Hispanic community in the lower west side of Chicago.
"But because we can so easily wash over who we really were because of the color of our skin, because of the texture of our hair, that's what divides countries," she continued.
Obama condemned the injustice of "white flight," describing those characteristics as "artificial" as they don't speak to "the values that people bring to life."
"There were no gang fights, there were no territorial battles," Obama said. "But yet, one by one, they packed up their bags and they ran from us."
‘One by one, they packed their bags and they ran from us, and they left communities in shambles’ — Michelle Obama reflected on the pain that white flight caused her family pic.twitter.com/lIJxPzTDZ4— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 30, 2019