The PJ Tatler

Obama: Mixed-Race Background Helps 'Me Recognize Most Americans Have Good Intentions'

President Obama told CNN in an interview aired Sunday that having an African-American father while being raised by his white mother and grandparents helps him see both bias and the good in others.

“There’s no doubt that I have moved back and forth between the racial divides, not just black- white, but Asian and Latino. And, you know, I have got a lot of cultural influences,” Obama said. “I think what it does do for me is to recognize that most Americans have good intentions… I assume the best, rather than the worst in others.”

“But it also makes me mindful of the fact that there’s misunderstanding, there’s mistrust, and there are biases, both overt and sometimes hidden, that operate in ways that disadvantage minority communities.”

The president added that there’s “a long legacy in this country that has gotten enormously better, but is still there.”

“And when you look at what’s happened in law enforcement across the country over the last several years, that’s not news to African-Americans,” he continued. “What’s different is simply that some of it is now videotaped and people see it. And the question then becomes, you know, what practical steps can we take to solve this problem? And I believe that the overwhelming majority of white Americans, as well as African- Americans, want to see this problem solved.”

“So I have confidence that, by surfacing these issues, we’re going to be able to make progress on them.”

He brushed off criticism from the black community that he’s too often noting changes over the past 50 years and telling people to be patient for more change.

“You know, if I spent too much time worrying about critics, I would be not getting a lot of stuff done here,” Obama said. “You know, there’s no reason for folks to be patient. I’m impatient. That’s why, in the wake of what happened in Ferguson and what happened in New York, we have initiated a task force that, in 90 days, are going to be providing very specific recommendations.”

“On the other hand, I think an unwillingness to acknowledge that progress has been made cuts off the possibility of further progress. If critics want to suggest that America is inherently and irreducibly racist, then why bother even working on it?”

Obama added that he’s seen change “in my own life.”

“So has this country. And those who would deny that, I think, actually foreclose the possibility of further progress, rather than advancing it.”