Former U.S. president Barack Obama is opening up about racial insensitivity he endured during his childhood. In an episode of Spotify’s “Renegades: Born in the USA,” his podcast with singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, he revealed that he once struck a friend after the boy called him a racial slur.
“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” Obama said.
“And one time we got into a fight and he called me a c—…It’s one of those things that — where he might not even known what a c— was, what he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this,’” he added. “And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room…I explained to him — I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that,’” Obama then said.
The former president revealed that he was living in Hawaii at the time.
This is not the first time Obama has shared a racist incident from his youth. In 2016, following a string of acts of police violence, he spoke at a town hall and outlined a time when a woman got off of an elevator simply because he was on it, even though they were going to the same floor. “I was puzzled. I said, ‘Do you want to come up,’ and she said no,” he said. “She came right back up but was just worried about riding an elevator with me.” He was 10 years old at the time.
Obama went on to add that the above instances, which also included doors being locked as he crossed the street, are not uncommon for Black men in America.
The podcast “Renegades: Born in the USA” is a Spotify exclusive, during which the men discuss “race, fatherhood, marriage, and the state of America.” The first two episodes debuted on February 23 and the first season will contain 8 episodes total. Listen to the trailer below.