Obama Uses The N-Word In His Marc Maron Interview To Talk About Charleston, Racism, And Guns

In an hour-long conversation with comedian Marc Maron, President Obama walked through familiar rhetoric of Obamacare, climate change, and political gridlock. But when it came to race relations in this country, particularly in light of the horrific attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday, there were no holds barred. In fact, Obama used the N-word to talk about Charleston and how racism has continued to permeate society despite race relations ultimately improving over the decades.

The interview, posted online Sunday at midnight, was a candid conversation between the president and the popular podcast host of WTF with Marc Maron. Understandably, much of the chat centered around the recent rise in attention on racial attacks and incidents against the black community. Obama insisted race relations have improved dramatically since the 1950s, but there was still plenty of work to do. And it was during that talk Obama dropped the N-word. No bleep.

Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n*gger in public. That's not a measure of whether racism 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.

The N-word is generally taboo, and the setting of the casual podcast (the interview was taped in Maron's garage) likely played into the risky move. To have the president of the United States publicly say the word to make a point is controversial. And it might just be necessary.

What came across in Obama's interview was a beleaguered leader tired of talking about race relations as an abstract concept. We saw that in his statement soon after the Charleston attack, a man who was visibly shaken with being forced to make the same comments on mass shootings. During Maron's interview, Obama clarified exactly what he meant.

The point I made in the immediate aftermath of the killing was that I've done this way too often. During the course of my presidency, it feels as if a couple times a year, I end up having to speak to the country and speak to a particular community about a devastating loss and the grieving that the country feels is real.

One solution to make these killings less common, he said, would be to enhance gun safety laws, something he claimed the majority of gun owners support.

There's no advanced nation on earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal. And to some degree, that's what's happened in the country. It's become something that we expect.

Obama specifically called out the NRA's hold on Congress and conceded that he didn't foresee real action happening until something jolted the American public to feel a "sufficient sense of urgency." Sandy Hook, the 2012 shooting when 20 children were killed along with six adults, wasn't enough apparently, Obama said. Congress' inability to pass gun control reform soon after Newtown was the closest he felt to being "disgusted, he said. So what will it take to show the public there's still so much to do to eradicate racial hate and violence? Maybe a black president laying out the N-word on the airwaves is a step in the right direction. Because he's right: Being polite enough to not say the N-word in public isn't enough.