Full Transcript: Exclusive Obama Interview

I mean, you think about the experience of whites in a place like Boston or Scranton, Pennsylvania, where, at time of economic stress and difficulty, suddenly blacks are moving in and kids are being bused, and there's some sense that the economic competition is being tilted unfairly because of affirmative action, right?

And, you know, there's street crime, because the blacks may be of lower income. And so it feels like neighborhoods are being destroyed, and that anger builds up, and that resentment builds up.

MORAN: And isn't that the nerve that Geraldine Ferraro touched…


OBAMA: Absolutely. Absolutely. She's from Queens.

MORAN: …she was interpreted as saying you're an affirmative action candidate.

OBAMA: Right. Well, you know, you think about her generation and her background, coming from a neighborhood in New York that went through some of those same things. And I'm sure that that is part of what's in her mind. And it's a mistake then to simply tag it as racist. It's not -- that's not what's going on.

There is somebody who is shaped by a series of experiences with race in this country. And those things we don't talk about and, as a consequence, they get -- they go underground, but there are strong subterranean currents, and they shape our politics very powerfully.

MORAN: So this is a moment maybe where -- some people might put it this way: Do you consider yourself a black man or an American first?

OBAMA: An American, absolutely.

MORAN: Is there a difference between black patriotism and white patriotism?

OBAMA: No, I don't think so. I mean, what I think is that the African-American community is much more familiar with some of the darker aspects of American life and American history and so is less -- here's a good way to describe it.

You know, I think that they understand much less as a marching band playing John Philip Sousa and they understand America much more as a jazz composition, with blue notes. And I think those are different things.

And so the African-American community can express great rage and anger about this country and love it all the same, in a way that probably is less familiar to white America.

MORAN: And I suppose some people might ask, is that giving an excuse for the expression of anti-American sentiments, simply because they come from a black person?

OBAMA: Well, it doesn't excuse it. It just describes a reality. And, look, I mean, I think it is very important -- and I tried to raise this in a speech -- for white America to understand that this anger is not based on nothing. The anger is based on slavery and Jim Crow and a history that continues to have powerful sway over our daily lives.

And I know that one of the most difficult things about race in this country is that white America is much more likely to say, "That was in the past, so forget about it. Let it go."

MORAN: They'll say, "I didn't do that."

OBAMA: "I didn't do it."


OBAMA: Exactly. "So why are we focused on that?" And black America is saying, "The violence that was committed then under Jim Crow now expresses itself or is tied to the street crime that I'm having to deal with in my neighborhood or in my own family. The destruction of my great-grandfather's farm back then is directly related to the financial troubles I'm having now."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...