Obama used the word during a conversation about racism in America, in which he challenged the notion that just because it wasn’t polite to use the word in public, the nation no longer had to struggle with it.
“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on,” he said.
“We’re not cured of it … it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘n****r’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.”
Obama said it would be wrong, however, to suggest that things haven’t changed for black people.
“I always tell young people in particular, do not say that nothing’s changed when it comes to race in America unless you lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ’60s or ’70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours,” he said. “That is a fact.”