Obama: Nation 'less racially divided'

Obama: Nation 'less racially divided'
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President Obama believes that the United States is less racially divided than when he took office in 2009.

Asked in an NPR interview set to air starting Monday whether the nation is more racially divided than six years ago, Obama said "No."

"I actually think that it's probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided," Obama told "Morning Edition" host Steve Inskeep. Excerpts of the interview were released before broadcast by NPR.

A majority of Americans, 53 percent, believe that race relations have worsened under America's first black president, compared to 36 percent who say they have stayed the same and 9 percent who say they have improved, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released earlier this month. 

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The issue of race in the United States has been a primary focus since protests erupted across the country last month following a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, in a St. Louis suburb.

Protests and scrutiny of police tactics intensified earlier this month after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black man.

Another poll released by CNN/ORC earlier this week found that 57 percent of white Americans believe few police officers, if any, treat black people differently, while only a quarter of nonwhite respondents held the same view.

The NPR interview took place Dec. 18, a day after People magazine published remarks by the president and first lady Michelle Obama saying that they themselves had experienced racial prejudice. 

"I think people forget that we've lived in the White House for six years," the first lady said. 

"Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs," she added. 

"There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys," the president said.