President Obama's hourlong interview on "WTF with Marc Maron" is refreshingly honest and smart. But it's his comments on racism, along with one pesky racial slur, that seem to have everyone worked up.
President Obama shared some important thoughts on the current state of racism in the United States, but everyone's hung up on his use of the n-word.
Yes, Obama used the n-word in an interview about his thoughts on racism. But judging by the headlines following the interview, you'd think the slur was the only thing he uttered.
In reality, the n-word was the least notable portion of the president's interview with Maron. The rest of it was pretty badass. Here's the full quote:
"It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours and that opportunities have opened up and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact. What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it. ... Racism, we're not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n****r 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."
Did you catch that? Obama said that we focus more on the n-word than the stuff that matters. And then ... our news media focused more on him saying the N word than the stuff that matters!
Spoiler alert: Racism is a lot bigger than racial slurs.
Yes, the n-word is bad. I hope that's something we can all agree on. But in reality racism isn't just about hurtful words.
"What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on."
— President Obama
While there's no denying we've made a lot of progress when it comes to racial equality, our nation's history still plays a huge role in where we are today. So in order for progress to continue, we have to talk about all the other stuff. Like how children of color face harsher punishments in school, which often ushers them into the prison system or how people of color often face discrimination when looking for jobs and housing. Those are the lasting effects of Jim Crow and discrimination that Obama was talking about. Truthfully, I'm burnt out on the whole n-word conversation. Who "can" say it, who "can't" say it, and who's ever said it is actually less important than dismantling institutional and structural racism. So let's agree to skip the slurs and talk about the hard stuff instead.