Photo: Ashlee Renee Grazin/AP
  /  02.23.2021


Barack Obama recently launched his “Renegades” podcast with Bruce Springsteen, and in just the second episode, he’s already revealed an interesting anecdote about his childhood experiences with racism.

During his conversation with Springsteen, Obama recalled the time he got into a fight with a former friend who called him a racial slur.

“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” he began. “And one time we got into a fight, and he called me a coon. Now, first of all, ain’t no coons in Hawaii, right? It’s one of those things where he might not even have known what a coon was. What he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this.’”

Obama didn’t take the insult lightly and reacted violently. “I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose, and we were in the locker room,” he told Springsteen. “I explained to him—I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that. I may be poor. I may be ignorant. I may be mean. I may be ugly. I may not like myself. I may be unhappy, but you know what I’m not? I’m not you.’”

Obama has been known to open up about various aspects of his life via interviews and books, including his recently-released A Promised Land memoir. He previously shared a story about his encounter with a white neighbor during a visit to his grandparents’ home.

“I still remember when I was 10 years old walking into the elevator, and there was a woman who I thought knew me, and as soon as I walked on — and she lived on my grandparent’s floor — when I walked on, she got off,” Obama said during a 2016 town hall. When the elevator went back down, the lady hopped on, and he immediately realized why she refused to get on the lift with him. “I just kind of peeked out the peephole, and I could see she came right back up but was just worried about riding the elevator with me,” he said.

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