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Michelle Obama: Questions about husband being 'black enough' silly

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  • Barack Obama is biracial; father from Kenya, mother from Kansas
  • Michelle Obama says questions have "nothing to do with me or Barack"
  • Obama says she is not fearful for her husband's safety while campaigning
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CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, Friday called questions early in the campaign about whether her biracial husband was "black enough" to appeal to African-American voters "silly."

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Michelle Obama says she is not hurt by those who question whether her husband is "black enough."

"It's silliness and it's about part of the silliness of our culture," she said.

A Harvard-educated attorney and vice president at the University of Chicago, Michelle Obama, 44, said the question -- raised most famously in a New York Times article -- wasn't hurtful to her.

"That has nothing to do with me or Barack -- that has to do with the challenges we are facing in this country and we shouldn't be surprised by them because we still haven't worked through this stuff," she said.

"I don't think there is a person of color in this country that doesn't struggle with what it means to be a part of your race versus what the majority thinks is right."

The question about Obama, who was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas, was raised early in the presidential race, when rival Sen. Hillary Clinton was polling well among black voters and landing endorsements from high-profile black political leaders. Video Watch Michelle Obama talk about her reluctance to see her husband run »

Since then, Obama's support has vastly increased with black voters. He took 78 percent of the black vote in a South Carolina primary he won handily and 73 percent of the African-American vote in Florida, although delegates from that contest, which Clinton won, won't count because of a scheduling squabble between state and national Democratic officials.

Obama, a senator from Illinois, and Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, are the two remaining challengers for the Democratic nomination and remain locked in a tight race. Obama won the season-opening Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary, while Clinton won New Hampshire, Nevada and no-delegate contests in Florida and Michigan, which also got in trouble for pushing ahead in the primary schedule.

While she said she initially tried to talk her husband out of running for president, Michelle Obama said she doesn't share the concerns voiced by Alma Powell, wife of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is black, that her husband's safety might be threatened over a quest for the White House. Powell had been mentioned as a possible candidate, but did not run.

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"There are inherent risks for all people, but particularly for people of color, so, you know, I can't live my life worrying about what might go wrong," she said. "What we are going through, Barack and our family, is nothing compared to our leaders who pushed through on the civil rights movement.

"When I think of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King and true fears that they had and true sacrifices that they made, I think I don't have any right to hesitate for doing something that I think is important out of fear." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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