22 Jun 2015

Obama: racism is more than not saying n***** in public

Speaking in the wake of the Charleston shooting, President Obama uses the “n-word” to make the point that America has not been “cured” of racism and slavery “casts a long shadow”.

President Barack Obama has spoken candidly about race in a clear demonstration of his frustrations following the killings of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week.

“Racism, we are not cured of it,” the president said, “and it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***** in public.” He was speaking in an interview with the American podcast WTF with Marc Maron.

“Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.” President Obama

“That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

While acknowledging that race relations have improved in the US, he added that “the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination” exists in institutions and casts “a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on”.

Pete Souza / Instagram

His comments come as protests are taking place in South Carolina where the Confederate flag still flies on the grounds of the state capital.

The flag was flown by the troops of southern states that attempted to secede from the US in 1861, leading to civil war and the eventual abolition of slavery. South Carolina specifically stated it was seceding due to the “increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery”. The flag has remained a popular emblem among present-day white supremacists.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others have called for the flag to be removed, calling it a symbol of hate.

Not enough to feel bad

President Obama also vented his growing frustrations at the unwillingness of the American Congress, and many in the public, to introduce gun controls.

Referring to last week’s shootings, the president said: “It’s not enough just to feel bad. There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. One of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic common sense gun safety laws.”

“Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong. I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress.”

Obama made an emotional speech after last week’s shootings, lamenting that he had made statements on similar violence “too many times”.