Michelle Obama's Brother Recalls Being Accused Of Stealing His Bike By Chicago Cops As A Child
Craig Robinson recalled his thoughts after being stopped by Chicago police as a young Black boy.
September 22, 2020 at 8:16 pm
With each passing episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, we experience more of what it’s like to be the former first lady. For Wednesday's episode, she brought her family members on the show to reflect on parenting during social strife.
Michelle Obama sat down with her brother Craig Robinson and their mother Marian Robinson this week to discuss a number of issues facing black American families, like police brutality and a child’s transition to adulthood.
Craig recalled an incident growing up in Chicago where police officers stopped him and accused him of stealing the bike he was riding. He said he felt as if the officers were intentionally trying to trip him up with their line of questions.
“It was terrifying only because I was always taught that the police are your friends and they’ll believe the truth,” Craig recalled.
“I was absolutely heartbroken,” he continued, “And I finally said to him, ‘Listen, you can take me to my house and I will prove to you this is my bike.’”
When the police brought Craig back home, Marian said she chastised the two Black officers for traumatizing her son. One of the police officers went as far as to admit that he knew young Craig was telling the truth.
“And you know what, when I called him and he came back over, you know what he said? He said ‘You know, I knew that was his bike the minute he said take me to my house.’ And then I said ‘Well, why did you let it go that far?’ You are actually messing with a 10-year-old's mind as far as the police are concerned,” their mother said.
She said their actions helped her realize that police injustices are more about the pervasive culture than the race of the people involved. Craig said the incident only emphasized the warnings he received from his parents about police behavior toward Black people.
“If I wasn't so sure that that bike was mine and showed any kind of reticence, I could see them taking me off to the police station [and] not calling mom until after I've been, you know, booked or whatever they do,” Craig said. “And it just made me acutely aware, at a young age, what mom and dad had always talked about.”
The Harvard Law grad said her brother’s early encounter with police serves as an example of prejudice and ever-present fear Black people face everyday.
“But when you leave the safety of your home and go out into the street, where being black is a crime in and of itself, we have all had to learn how to operate outside of our homes with a level of caution, and fear,” she began. “And we grow up, having to have conversations with our children, because almost everybody I know has had some kind of incident where they just minding their own business, but, living Black, and and go accused.”
In Wednesday's episode, the podcast host also spoke about the challenge of raising her Black daughters in the White House and how committed her husband, Barack Obama, was in the process.
"Even as Barack being the president of the United States, he worked his schedule around their schedule. They weren't waiting until 9 o'clock at night to eat because dad was running late. They never couldn't not go somewhere or do something because of dad. I never wanted them to resent the presidency, or resent what their dad did,” she said.
While supporters of the show rave about the chance to get an inside look into Obama’s personal life, fans have also resonated well with the music of the podcast. Since the show launched on July 29, the podcast has featured songs from SiR, Beyoncé, Chloe and Halle, Teyana Taylor and H.E.R, as Blavity previously reported.
The former first lady shared her Spotify playlist, “Vol 1: The Michelle Obama Playlist,” in August to highlight the talented artists involved and to showcase “#BlkGirlMagic.”