President Obama delivered a serious reflection on the recent unrest in Baltimore during his final appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," arguing that the country needs to be more proactive in addressing inequality and lack of opportunity in certain communities.

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"This is not just a policing problem. What you have are pockets of poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of education all across the country. And too often, we ignore those pockets until something happens," he said on the CBS show.

"Then, we act surprised, and the TV cameras come in, and essentially, we put the police officers in a really tough spot where we say, 'Just contain the problem.' If young African-American men are being shot, but it's not affecting us, we'll just kind of paper that over."

Obama added that the systemic problem is also spurred by the nation's drug policy, which he said leads to "mass incarceration" that, often, takes father figures out of the picture in minority communities. Hillary Clinton used a similar line during her speech on criminal justice last week, but the language was criticized on Monday by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) as politicizing the issue.

The president also stressed that Americans need to wait for the justice system to play out in the cases of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man from Baltimore who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. The officers have been accused of refusing Gray's calls for medical attention and not properly strapping him into the back of a police van.

Obama added, the "overwhelming majority of police officers are doing an outstanding job," noting the recent death of a New York Police Department officer who was shot in the head this past weekend.

Obama's appearance on the iconic late-night show comes as Letterman readies to retire. The pair shifted away from the serious topic for a few minutes and exchanged jokes about Letterman's impending retirement.