President Obama has no regrets about using the N-word to make a point during a recent discussion on race, the White House said Monday.
“He does not,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “The president’s use of the word and the reason he used the word could not be more apparent.”
The president’s phrasing renewed a debate over who is allowed to use the word and when it’s appropriate to say.
In a podcast released Monday, the president urged the nation to deal with the enduring problem of racism, saying it has not been “cured” simply because it is no longer acceptable to utter racial slurs publicly.
"Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n----- in public,” he said on Marc Maron’s “WTF Podcast.” “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.”
Obama also said the United States has made great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination since the days of Jim Crow laws in the 1950s and 1960s.
“We've made progress, but more needs to be done,” Earnest agreed.
Earnest acknowledged it is “understandably notable” that Obama used the word, a nod to the public debate it has spurred. But he said it helped illustrate a point the president has long made.
“I don’t think he was surprised by” the public reaction, Earnest said. “But I think it has prompted careful consideration of what he said.”
It’s not the first time Obama has used the word on the record. It was heard in an audiobook recording of his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, during a passage in which he imitated one of his high-school friends.