Sunday 26 February 2017

Barack Obama uses N-word as he says 'US isn't cured of racism'

David Kearns

US President Barack Obama speaking about gun violence in San Francisco Credit: Kevin Lamarque
US President Barack Obama speaking about gun violence in San Francisco Credit: Kevin Lamarque

US President Barack Obama has used the 'n-word' to argue that the United States has yet to overcome its issues with racism.

Mr Obama was speaking about the murder of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, and said the racially motivated shooting showed America had failed to deal with the legacy of slavery.

"Racism, we are not cured of it" said the president. "And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***** in public. 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."

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In an interview with comedian Marc Maron, he lamented the lack of will from US politicians to enact stricter gun controls.

"It's not just a matter of overt discrimination," he said.

"Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."

Mr Obama criticised the influence of anti-gun-control lobbyists in US Congress, saying they had prevented the enactment of stronger gun control legislation after the mass killing of school children in Connecticut in 2012.

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A week before Christmas, a single gun man walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 children and 7 teachers before killing himself.

"The grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong," he said.

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

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Mr Obama acknowledged that attitudes about race in the US have improved since his childhood, but he said that America's history of enslaving black people "casts a long shadow and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on".

Mr Obama has publicly used the n-word before but not as president.

The interview from the podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" came days after a mass shooting in Charleston, which police believe was motivated by racial hatred.

Read More: I wanted to start a race war, says US church killer

The shooting has restarted a debate over a Confederate flag that flies on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol.

Mr Obama did not reference the flag in the interview, but he said on Friday that the flag belongs in a museum and should not be flown.

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