*President Barack Obama used the n-word during an interview released Monday while making the point that racism hasn’t disappeared in this country just because the word “nigger” is no longer socially acceptable.
“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said in an interview for the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.”
“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.”
Listen to a snippet of the interview below. (Listen to the full un-bleeped version here.)
The president’s comment comes as the nation is again engaged in a debate over race after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans last week in a historically black church in Charleston. They also reflect a growing willingness for Obama to discuss race during the final years of his presidency.
CNN has been using the term “jarring” to describe Obama using the n-word.
“It is beneath the office of the president,” conservative radio show host David Webb said, charging Obama with playing into a narrative to push an agenda.
The n-word is not bleeped on Maron’s WTF website, but it was bleeped in the re-play on Fox News and MSNBC.
“We have a warning for our viewers,” MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski said as she introduced the soundbite. “He (Obama) uses strong language, some of which may be considered offensive.”
In the “Morning Joe” discussion that followed, host Joe Scarborough said, “I’m curious about the president being beeped out there. I mean, the president of the United States — obviously said that word because he wanted to make a point. I just — I find it curious that there was a decision by somebofy that–
“I think there’s a lot of worry maybe it will be misused or whatever,” co-host Brzezinski said.
“It’s the president of the United States making a point,” Scarborough repeated.
“I know. I would love to have a bigger conversation about that,” Brzezinski said.
“Yeah, nobody likes having conversations,” Scarborough responded. “Nah, they don’t like having conversations about race. They just don’t. Everybody says they do, nobody ever does.”
“Oh, I would love to have that conversation,” Brzezinski repeated.
“No you can’t,” Scarborough insisted. “Because you try to have a conversation on race, and you say one thing that may not fit in to a… you know, where everybody’s bubble wrapped and saying the politically correct things, and suddenly it becomes a massive, massive problem. So much so that the president of the United States is being beeped on a news show when he says the word to make a point.”
“No, it definitely struck me as strange to bleep him,” Brzezinski concluded.
The White House released a statement saying that this is not the first time the President has used the N-word. “Truth is he uses the term about a dozen times in Dreams from my Father,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said.
On the podcast, Obama went on to say there has been progress on race relations over the decades, citing his own experience as a young man who was born to a white mother and an African father.
“I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you’ve lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ’60s or ’70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours,” Obama said.
But 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.”