one more question for you. Um… this is
a personal question. -Yeah.
-It’s a little bit selfish. Um… I look up to you, because
we share a lot in common. We both have parents
who are black and white. Uh, both half African. South Side of Chicago.
South side of Africa. -Um…
-Similar. -In and around race…
-Yeah. when you are a person
who has a platform, -Right.
-when you are in a space where you are engaging
with people… it is often difficult… to navigate and skirt that line -Yeah.
-between speaking your mind -Right. -and sharing your…
your true opinions on race, whilst at the same time
not being seen to alienate some of the people
you are talking to. -Right. -You know, because
if you are a white person who’s speaking about race,
then you are just a person -who is interested in race.
-Right. If you are a person of color
who’s speaking about it, it’s, like, “Oh,
the black thing started again.” -(chuckles)
-So… the question I’ve
always wanted to know is, -Yeah.
-how did you navigate that? ‘Cause we watched you do it,
but I always wanted to know howyounavigated that
through your two terms. You know… my general theory uh, is that… if I was clear in my own mind about who I was,
comfortable in my own skin, and… had clarity about the way in which race continues to be… this powerful factor in
so many elements of our lives, but that it
is not the only factor in so many aspects of our lives, that, uh… we… have by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism, but that the progress we’ve made
has been real -and extraordinary.
-Mm-hmm. Uh, if I’m communicating
my genuine belief that, uh… those who are not… uh, subject to racism uh, can sometimes
have blind spots, or, uh, lack appreciation
of what it feels to be on the receiving end
of that, but that doesn’t mean that
they’re not open to learning and, uh… caring about
equality and justice, and that I can… uh… win them over, because there’s goodness
in the majority of people. If I… I always felt
that if I really knew that and I just communicated it
as clearly as I could, that I’d be okay. Um, another way
of saying this is there’s not been a time
in my public life or my presidency,
where I feel as if I have had to bite my tongue. There have been times in my
public life where I’ve said, how do I say this
diplomatically? How do I say this,
as you indicated, in a way that it’s received. -Yes.
-Right? So there, there… have been very few instances
where I’ve said, well, that was racist,
you are racist. There have been times
where I’ve said, you know, you might not
have taken into account… (both laughing) uh, the, uh… the ongoing legacy of,
of, uh, of racism in why we have so many black men incarcerated. And since I know that you believe
in the constitution, and believe in justice
and believe in liberty, um, how about if we try this? Now, some might say well, you’re not speaking fully
truth to power -because of that diplomacy.
-Yes. But, you know, I don’t think that, um, trying to appeal to the better
angels of our nature, as Lincoln put it, uh, is somehow compromise. There may be times where… uh, you just have to
call things out and name names. But the challenge we face today, when it comes to race, uh, is… rarely the overt, Klansman-style, uh, uh, racism, and typically has more to do with the fact that, you know, people got other stuff
they want to talk about, and it’s sort of uncomfortable. And it’s… somebody not getting called back
for an interview, -although it’s never explicit.
-Mm-hmm. Or it’s, you know, who gets the TV acting job? The actress who doesn’t quite
look the part, and what does that mean. In-in that environment, where you’re
not talking necessarily about cut-and dried, uh, racist behavior, but rather
about the complex ways in which society is working
these issues through, uh, you know,
trying to reach folks in ways that they can hear, I think, is, uh, is important. And, I would add, everybody’s got a different role
to play. Um, you know, if Chris Rock’s
doing standup, then there is a benefit to him doing something
that is different from the president of the United
States doing something. For one thing, you know, he doesn’t have to, uh,
edit his language (laughing):
quite as carefully, because I am still subject to, you know, some restraints… You still got your
last few days. …on-on those seven words -George Carlin talked about.
-Yes. See, I-I can’t use those, uh, as a general proposition, because a lot of children
are watching. I try to comport myself in a way that, uh, my mother would approve of. Well, I just want to say
thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for being
an inspiration, and, most importantly,
thank you for giving me an opportunity to
see what I would look like after eight years of the
toughest job in the world. You know,
I-I will say that I resent how young
and good looking you are, ’cause, uh, I used to think
of myself in those terms, and, uh, it’s been downhill
for quite some time. -Thank you, sir.
-Thank you, man. -Thank you very much.