Obama Addresses Racism, Says N-Word in Podcast

President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., in June 2015
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama underscored the persistence of racism in the United States, pointing out, for example, that just because it's no longer considered polite to say the n-word in public doesn't mean the country is not still suffering the aftereffects of systemic discrimination, the Associated Press reports

"Racism, we are not cured of it," Obama said. "And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.

"It's not just a matter of overt discrimination," Obama added. "Societies don't overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."


Obama did acknowledge that race relations have improved but said that slavery's legacy "casts a long shadow and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on." 

The president's musings are in an interview that was shared Monday on comedian Marc Maron's podcast WTF, in which uncensored language is often a part of the talk, according to AP. 


In the interview, the president spoke about the racially charged massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal in Charleston, S.C., as well as gun laws. The president also voiced frustration that "the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong," with gun control measures being stalled in Congress even after a 2012 shooting massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

"I will tell you, right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 6-year-olds are gunned down, and Congress literally does nothing—yes, that's the closest I came to feeling disgusted," he said. 

While respecting that many Americans use guns for sportsmanship and hunting, the president asked, "Is there a way of accommodating that legitimate set of traditions with some commonsense stuff that prevents a 21-year-old who is angry about something or confused about something or is racist or is deranged from going into a gun store and suddenly is packing and can do enormous harm?"

During last week's shooting rampage that took the lives of nine people at Emanuel AME, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is said to have used hate-filled language. Roof has been linked to a 2,500-word racist manifesto, and he faces nine counts of murder in connection with the shooting. 


According to AP, Obama's interview was conducted Friday in Los Angeles at Maron's studio. Maron said that he wanted to do the podcast with the president to "break out these old patterns that our politics have fallen into," reaching out to the nontraditional audience.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously referred to Obama's appearance on WTF With Marc Maron as the first presidential podcast.


Read more at the Associated Press

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