The United States' first African-American president, Barack Obama, and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, have revealed that they too have been a victim of racial biases.

Speaking to People magazine on Wednesday (17 December), the US President said: "There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys."

First Lady, Michelle Obama, joined in the conversation by recalling her own experience at a Target store recently, when she was asked by a shopper to take something down from a shelf.

"I think people forget that we've lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs," said Michelle Obama.

"I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new."

The First Lady said her husband was also once mistaken for a waiter. "He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee."

As racial tensions rise in the country in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and the Eric Garner case, the US president said much progress is needed.

In both the cases, the men were killed by white officers and neither of them faced charges over the killing.

"The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It's one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It's another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress," Obama said.