During a Monday interview with comedian Marc Maron, President Barack Obama used the n-word to drive home the point that the shunning of the word in today’s society doesn’t magically make our society post-racial.
If last week’s massacre at Charleston, South Carolina‘s Mother Emanuel AME Church is any indication, that’s public knowledge. Accused gunman Dylann Roof reportedly told victims he intended to kill them because they were Black, and friends of the high school drop-out have told numerous media outlets that he indeed had a racial bias. But the tragic shooting that left nine dead is an extreme example — for months, a Black liberation movement propelled by the creators of Black Lives Matter and many other newly minted activism groups has brought America’s attention to the injustices Black communities deal with daily. From police brutality to employment, housing and education, Black people are still disenfranchised and underrepresented in a country that has always held a contentious relationship with them.
That’s something that isn’t lost on the president, who in the past year has made attempts to close those gaps with programs like “My Brother’s Keeper.” And on Maron’s podcast, “WTF with Marc Maron,” Obama dropped the n-word to get his point across.
“Racism, we are not cured of it. 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. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior,” he said.
Unfortunately, the comment, dubbed “jarring” by CNN, is taking on new life. The president using the n-word has become the news, not the conversation on race. That’s also not lost on the public, who took to Twitter to defend the president (who, it must be noted, is not the first president to use the term).
CNN is working itself into a tizzy because Obama, a half black guy, said the n word
— Mountain Flower (@savie_cee) June 22, 2015
Obama: talk about racism have to be about more than whether people use the n-word. Reaction: let’s all talk about Obama saying the n-word
— Andy Sayers (@andy_sayers) June 22, 2015
Obama making some points about racism and the media focused on him saying the n-word, “desperate for attention”, the media is a joke.
— Brownstone™ (@TheyLovetheAfro) June 22, 2015
the people that are outraged over obama saying the “n” word are the same people that are quick to forget the presidents that owned slaves
— jasmine reynoso (@acubismdream) June 22, 2015
Lmao 100% sure all the people condemning obama for saying the N word have called him that with their conservative white friends
— poet with great ass (@abeerfartloud) June 22, 2015
Interestingly, the soundbite that could have opened a door to discuss race relations in this country, while shutting down that false post-racial utopia politicians like to think exists, became the soundbite now debated amongst talking heads on news networks for the word’s usage.
Not the context.
Obama, who also said that the legacy of slavery and racism is “still part of our DNA,” was on to something, but sadly, nobody really wants to talk about the complexity of racism. To admit that there’s even an issue is to open up a world of problems that need to be rectified.
And right now, what’s more fun? Acknowledging the age-old systemic racism in America, or that the president actually said a “bad” word? We think the latter won.
SOURCE: CNN, Twitter | VIDEO SOURCE: NDN