Michelle Obama’s Transcendent Moment

We're not postracial, but after the first lady's heckling response, we might be post-"angry black woman."

Michelle Obama at Washington, D.C., book signing in May 2013 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Michelle Obama at Washington, D.C., book signing in May 2013 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(The Root) — If it’s been true in past elections that what the average Joe Voter really wants is to share a beer with the president, then perhaps getting into a bar fight with the first lady will be 2016’s litmus test. As it stands, reaction to first lady Michelle Obama’s swift handling of a recent heckler fell heavily on the side of “You go, girl!” cementing the public’s already deeply entrenched crush on Obama — and perhaps proving that she has transcended the race and gender stereotypes that used to dog her.

While giving a speech at a private fundraiser in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night, Obama was repeatedly interrupted by a member of the audience who was there to do just that. “First lady heckler” 56-year-old Ellen Sturtz attended the $500-a-ticket event at the behest of Get Equal, an LGBT-rights advocacy group that seeks to “take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

In the middle of the first lady’s impassioned speech, Sturtz began shouting about the “executive order,” referring to anti-discriminatory legislation that would ban federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and job applicants.

“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” replied the first lady coolly. “Do you understand?”

In an audio recording of the speech, you can hear Obama emphasize that last bit with all the restrained wrath of a grandmother in church reprimanding a kid with the giggles. According to the pool report from a reporter present, the first lady then left her lectern to confront the heckler directly, telling Sturtz, “Listen to me, or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”

None too surprisingly, the crowd loudly sided with Obama, Sturtz was escorted from the room and the first lady finished her speech. Game, set, match.

When news of the “incident” reached the Internet, most reactions in the vast comments-sphere were akin to that of the fundraiser’s audience — raucous applause. Many made note of the incongruity in a statement made by Sturtz during an interview after the event.

“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz said of Obama addressing her directly. “I was taken aback.”