- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Former first lady Michelle Obama lamented Tuesday that the lack of diversity in the Republican Party and Congress as a whole is part of the reason why the American people don’t trust politics.

Speaking with television producer Shonda Rhimes at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in Philadelphia, Mrs. Obama said she noticed the stark contrast in diversity and “color” between the two parties every time she attended the State of the Union address while her husband was office.

“Usually at the State of the Union address … when you’re in the room, what you can see is this real dichotomy,” Mrs. Obama said, according to videos of the event. “On one side of the room, it’s a feeling of color almost. On one side of the room, it’s literally gray and white. Literally, that’s the color palette on one side of the room. On the other side of the room, there’s yellows and blues and whites and greens. Physically, there’s a difference in color, in the tone.

“Because on one side, all men, all white,” she scoffed. “On the other side, some women and some people of color. … I looked at that and thought, ‘No wonder we struggle. No wonder people don’t trust politics. We’re not even noticing what these rooms look like.’”

Mrs. Obama said women and minorities will probably “continue to struggle” unless there’s a major shakeup in Congress and more white men become willing to give up their seats.

“If people haven’t had the experience of being ‘other’ and ‘out’ and you’re trying to fix the problems of those folks, it’s hard to come up with an answer if you haven’t lived it,” she added.

Earlier in the discussion, Mrs. Obama said it’s imperative that the “problem-solving table is diverse.”

“There can’t be a room full of men who are going come up with right answers for how to create a work environment that’s hospitable to women, and it can’t be a room full of women,” she said. “If we’re trying to get anything done and we look around and we all look alike, we’re all sitting around the same table and we all feel really comfortable with ourselves, we should question that.”

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