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  • Writer's picture Linton F. Hester

Michelle Obama: Depression & Racism

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Recently, our former First Lady, Michelle Obama took to her podcast to disclose her struggle with her mental health. Now, if you are a listener or subscriber of my podcast, Counseling for the Culture, you may have some insight on the dissimilarity between mental health and mental illness. And yes, there is a difference. Without taking you into a classroom to explicate these distinctions, just click the link above to quickly access Episode 7: Mental Health vs Mental Illness, after this reading.

Back to our former First Lady. She openly admitted to her battle with, what she announced as “some form of low-grade depression”. She went on to detail the precipitating factors that’s led her to this juncture of mental and emotional turbulence.

Here's a brief excerpt in her own words:

Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just, seeing this administration. Watching the hypocrisy of it day-in and day-out is dispiriting.

Michelle Obama is not the first to see, experience, talk about it or even put it out into the world. There are many celebrities and notable figures who were courageous enough to share their vulnerabilities in their mental health. I’ll provide a link in the closing of the blog. We all have, in some way, feel the weight of the unrest. For those of us who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color), we know all too well the persistent and blatant health disparities in treatment. From the injustices of watchdog policing, racial and insidious shifts that were and are intentionally constructed to sustain oppression and the dehumanization of the BIPOC community. According to Mental Health America, African-Americans make up approximately 13.4% of the total 331 Million people in the US which comes out to about 14 Million BIPOC of America. Of those, 16% have reported an unspecified mental illness - AMI (Any Mental Illness) or SMI (Serious Mental Illness). I am sure, that a number of these cases include mental illness that have been induced by societal factors of systemic racism, disparities, medical bias, judicial injustices as well as secondary trauma from such exacerbating stressors.


If you’re involved in any social media platform, you may have experienced some degree of anger, depression, hypervigilance and restlessness from the oversaturated footage of brutality. These nonsensical policies and witting stalemate inaction of state and federal lawmakers compounds chronic stressors in our lives. I can go on, but by now, If you're still reading this, you're in agreement. If you are from any class of the African Diaspora, you know about racial gaslighting. You may have never been able to put a name to it or identify it to call it out, but there it is…it exists!

Racism has always been in plain sight. It’s been in the work place, on the playground with our children, in video games, from congress to cartoons shows, from models to TV networks, magazines and every medium that paint and project a manipulated image of how “they” want Black and Brown people to be seen, heard and experienced. The reality of

many BIPOC is that we have suffered, struggled, fought, endured and shown resilience through centuries of racism, injustice, family separation, mass incarceration and wealth disparities. In all, every "macro" and "micro" moment of silence, inaction, or reoccurring stereo type has been transposed through entertainment, news or the judicial system. This plays a vital role in the medical sector that pushing the oppressive agenda against the Black & Brown community and without concrete change this systemic pandemic contributes to the decompensation of our mental health, independently and collectively.


Mental illness or any form of mental health check-ins should no longer be viewed as a stigma, taboo or secret in the millennial age. What should be a thing of the past is racism, oppression and systemic disparages that silently assaults and significantly brutalize the health, well-being and psychological vitality of the BIPOC community. As aforementioned, below are a list of celebrities who were bold enough to confront their illness, disclose it to help normalize it and pursue silencing the stigma about what should be as common as illness in the body. However, it has the propensity to continue its chronic phase as long as there's a system that refuses to acknowledge and actuate change in the treatment of Black & Brown people. Michelle Obama has now been included as one of those candid figures to address the catastrophic impacts of racism, disparities and male treatment.

Click link for full list: Essence

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