Michelle Obama: Americans weren't ready for Afro curls

Michelle Obama said that while it would have been easier to style her hair in a braid, at the time she thought, “No, they’re not ready for that.” Afraid that her hair would be used as a distraction, she decided to straighten her hair. This allowed the government to focus on her husband’s agenda instead of having to answer racist questions about her hair.

“Let me straighten my hair,” Obama said. “Let’s pass health care reform.”

According to the first black first lady, hairstyles are another obstacle for African American women in the workplace. Natural hairstyles could be criticized for being less professional, even though it may be easier to wear the hair that way. “We need to think about the whole ‘are you wearing your hair natural’ thing,” Obama said. “That’s the African American experience.”

“The light within us” is meant to be a glimpse into their “personal toolbox,” Obama writes. “With this book, I want to show you what I keep there and why; what tools I use at work or in my private life to stay balanced and confident, what tools I have even in times that are particularly characterized by fear and stress, help.”

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