President Obama is warning that America is not “cured” of racism in the wake of a shooting in a historically black church in South Carolina, driving home his point by evoking a racial slur to argue that attitudes on slurs don’t mean prejudice is gone.
“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination—in in almost every institution of our lives—that casts a long shadow, that’s still part of our DNA, that’s passed on,” Obama said on an episode of the Marc Maron “WTF Podcast” released Monday.
“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 lamented that mass shootings are “unique to our country,” noting how countries like Australia have made drastic reforms to their gun policies in the wake of shootings. And while noting that the “grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong,” he said that he doesn’t believe Congress will take any action until Americans believe that mass shootings should not be treated as “normal.”
“The grieving that the country feels is real, the sympathy, the prioritizing, comforting the families, all that is important,” he said.