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President Obama Uses the N-Word While Discussing Racism in America

Obama told the host that the US was not cured of racism and later discussed frustrations with what he described as the National Rifle Association's "extremely strong grip" on Congress.
June 22, 2015, 4:47pm
Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

While discussing race relations during an interview released Monday on comedian Marc Maron's podcast, US President Barack Obama controversially used the N-word, as renewed debate has surfaced over guns and race in the wake of the Charleston church shooting last week.

Obama told the host that the US is not cured of racism, and that the country has not overcome its racist past.

"Racism, we are not cured of it," Obama said. "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."

During the interview on Maron's popular and unchained podcast, called WTF with Marc Maron, Obama also said that attitudes about race in America have greatly improved in his lifetime. He also addressing the "long shadow" that slavery's legacy has created.

.— The White House (@WhiteHouse)June 22, 2015

Beyond race, the president discussed the politics of gun control, saying he was frustrated by the National Rifle Association's "extremely strong" grip on Congress. Obama blamed the national gun lobby for blocking the advance of gun control legislation following the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, which left 20 children and six staff members dead.

"I will tell you, right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 6-year-olds are gunned down, and Congress literally does nothing — yes, that's the closest I came to feeling disgusted," he said. "I was pretty disgusted."

Obama brought up the dilemma of accommodating gun-owners who value hunting and sportsmanship with "common-sense stuff" to keep people like Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston shooter, from getting their hands on a weapon.

"The question is just, is there a way of accommodating that legitimate set of traditions with some common sense stuff that prevents a 21-year-old who is angry about something or confused about something, or is racist, or is deranged, from going into a gun store and suddenly is packing, and can do enormous harm," Obama said.

During the wide-ranging interview, the president also touched on other subject matters — including what he would be like as a candidate if he were running in the 2016 elections, campaigning for which is now switching into higher gear.

"I know what I'm doing, and I'm fearless," he said. "I've screwed up. I've been in the barrel tumbling down Niagara Falls. And I emerged and I lived. And that's always such a liberating feeling."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.