Former President Barack Obama spoke about race relations in American society through the second episode of his new podcast with Bruce Springsteen, arguing that at its coronary heart, racism is an “assertion of status over the other.”
“I may be poor. I may be ignorant. I may be mean. I may be ugly. I may not like myself. I may be unhappy. But you know what I’m not? I’m not you,” Obama mentioned, describing the impetus behind one individual calling one other a racial epithet.
In the second episode of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” launched Monday, the forty fourth president mentioned this psychology was institutionalized over time to justify dehumanizing others and profiting from them. Racism can also be as a consequence of an internal concern that “I’m insignificant and not important. And this thing is the thing that’s going to give me some importance,” Obama added.
To show his level, he introduced up an occasion from his college days in Hawaii, when he got here to blows with a good friend who referred to as him a “coon.”
“It’s one of those things that where he might not even know what a coon was — what he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this,’” Obama recalled. “And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose and we were in the locker room. … And he said, ‘Why’d you do that?’ And I explained to him, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that.’”
Obama and Springsteen additionally mentioned the Black Lives Matter protests that swept throughout America within the aftermath of George Floyd’s loss of life in 2020, agreeing that the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) ― who Obama mentioned “embodied [a] very particular brand of courage” ― had influenced a complete era along with his historical past of protesting for racial equality.
Finally, the pair touched upon reparations, which Obama mentioned had been justified in his thoughts as a consequence of the truth that “the wealth of this country, the power of this country … not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it … but a large portion of it, was built on the backs of slaves.”
Getting a large swath of Americans to agree on any form of viable reparations program is one other matter, the previous president burdened, acknowledging that it was “perfectly understandable why working-class white folks, middle-class white folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans … wouldn’t be thrilled with the idea of a massive program that is designed to deal with the past but isn’t speaking to their future.”
“We can’t even get this country to provide decent schooling for inner-city kids,” Obama mentioned. “And what I saw during my presidency was the politics of white resistance and resentment. The talk of ‘welfare queens’ and the talk of the ‘undeserving’ poor. And the backlash against affirmative action. All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program … not only a non-starter but potentially counterproductive.”
Listen to the podcast’s second episode under.
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