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Because literally the chronic stress of racism is cutting our lives short.For years, psychologists have known the stress of racism -- both perceived and real -- is the cause of shorter lifespans in communities of color.As if black folks winning the White House was more horrifying than terrorists taking over our nation. The First Lady would have to be made of stone not to be hurt by these attacks. She has used her platform to improve the lives of girls, military families and young people around the world. , a project to fight childhood obesity by making school lunch programs healthier, encouraging exercise and promoting community gardening.
In her senior thesis at Princeton, Michelle Obama wrote that her experiences at the Ivy League university made her “far more aware” of race and determined to work for the black community.
The 23-year-old school paper, posted on the Web site Politico.com, shows the young Michelle La Vaughn Robinson struggling to feel at home at the university.
African Americans, Native Hawaiians and Latin Americans have been impacted greatly by hypertension and diabetes due, in part, to chronic stress resulting from discrimination, according to the American Psychological Association.
And Psychoneuroendocrinology journal published a 2015 study that showed how merely feeling like we've been discriminated against or thinking that we will be in the future is enough to trigger chronic stress ailments including high blood pressure, infant mortality, heart disease and mental disorders.
Still, like the former First Lady, I believe we have the power change lives.
Michelle's refusal to let her humanity be stripped down by hatred is really the only hope for all of us.(President Trump has already talked of eliminating some of Michelle's programs.) Michelle understands that these days it's easy for young people, for all of us, to get discouraged by life -- especially people who look like her.And that our problems are much larger than name-calling or racist cartoons.Michelle's ability to continuously rise above hate, to speak with love and compassion for all people is her true power -- it is not her Harvard degree, her title or her husband.She has found a way to acknowledge her pain without sacrificing her dignity or robbing others of their own.Fox News anchors took to calling Michelle, "Obama's baby mama." Impossible to imagine Barbara Bush or Melania Trump ever being denigrated in this way.The two were celebrating with a fist-bump standing beside a portrait of Osama bin Laden.And it's not just Twitter-crazed private citizens who've attacked.Media outlets -- liberal and conservative -- have helped instigate this hate.There's no racial stigma attached, no lingering racist Reconstruction Era cultural stereotypes about lazy blacks and watermelons.Calm down and breathe is what I told myself as I cleaned up those watermelon rinds. But generations of toxic cultural indoctrination do not die easily and even now, weeks later, I'm still trying to get over it and my suspicions about some of my expat neighbors, many of whom like me are from the United States and travel around the world towing their own racial baggage as white Americans.