President Barack Obama spoke about race and guns with comedian Marc Maron on his WTF podcast Monday and dropped the N-word to prove the point that racism still exists and it will take time to overcome it.
"Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n****r in public," Obama said. "That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination."
Responding to Maron's question on the country's race relations in light of the Charleston church shooting and police actions in Baltimore and Ferguson, Obama said, "I always tell young people, 'Do not say that nothing's changed when it comes to race in America unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s or '60s or '70s,'" Obama said.
He said that while it was a fact that race relations had improved during his lifetime, "what is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost in every institution of our lives...that's still part of our DNA that's passed on."
He went on to say that "societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that has happened 200 to 300 years prior."
Obama also addressed the issue of gun control in light of the Charleston shooting where a 21-year-old white suspect shot and killed nine black people at a Bible study session in a historic South Carolina church.
Reiterating the point he made during his speech after last week's shooting, Obama said, "I've done this way too often. During the course of my presidency it feels as if a couple times a year I end up having to speak to the country and speak to a particular community about a devastating loss."
He said that is wasn't enough "just to feel bad," and actions such as "enhancing some basic common sense gun safety laws" could be taken to make such events less likely.
"This is unique to our country. There's no other advanced nation on Earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal, and to some degree, that's what's happened in this country," he said. "It's become something we expect."
He said that while people should be respectful of the fact that guns are important to a lot of people and evoke memories and traditions for them, there should be a way to accommodate that with common sense laws that prevent a 21-year-old who "who is angry, confused, racist, or deranged from going to a gun store and is suddenly packing and can do enormous harm."
Jessica Simeone is a deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Simeone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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