21 January 2018

I suffered racism in office - Obama

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President Barack Obama says the color of his skin has 'absolutely' contributed to white Americans' negative perceptions of his time in office.

The president said in a Wednesday special looking back on his legacy, 'I think there's a reason why attitudes about my presidency among whites in Northern states are very different from whites in Southern states.

'Are there folks whose primary concern about me has been that I seem foreign, the other? Are those who champion the "birther" movement feeding off of bias? Absolutely,' he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

David Axelrod, a senior advisor to Obama at the White House who now runs the Chicago Institute of Politics, concurred.

'It's indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race,' Axelrod told CNN, where he's also paid to work as a contributor.

According to Axelrod, at least one powerful Republican was personally disrespectful to Obama.

'He said to him, we don't really think you should be here but the American people thought otherwise. So we're going to have to work with you'.

Obama's successor, President-elect Donald Trump, promoted birther arguments, encouraging hackers to look into Obama's place of birth in 2014.

Trump said in an August 2012 tweet: 'An "extremely credible source" has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.'

The Republican said this fall that he no longer believes Obama was born in Kenya.

'President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,' he stated. 'Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.'

He made no apology for his previous statements and claimed that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign began the birther movement in 2008.

Clinton's campaign accused him of having connections to white nationalists - an argument her former communications director has continued to hound him with, saying in the Washington Post today that he needs to 'own up to it.'

Obama took Trump's about-face in stride, joking at a September Congressional Black Caucus Gala, 'If there’s an extra spring in my step tonight' it's because 'I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over.'

He also told attendees he would consider it 'a personal insult, an insult to my legacy' if they did not vote for Clinton.

The president told Zakaria in the special on his legacy that aired Wednesday but was taped in September that he doesn't mind being defined as the nation's first black president.

Obama was raised by 'three white people,' Zakaria noted: his mother, Ann Dunham, and his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham.

'And an Indonesian, you can throw in there,' Obama offered, making reference to his stepfather Lolo Soetoro after Zakaria raised the point.

Obama told him, 'The concept of race in America is not just genetic, otherwise the one-drop rule wouldn't have made sense.

'It's cultural. It's this notion of a people who look different than the mainstream, suffering terrible oppression, but somehow being able to make out of that a music and a language and a faith and a patriotism.'

2016.12.09 / 12:24
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