President Barack Obama, following the tragic shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church that left nine African-Americans dead, used the n-word while weighing in on America’s complicated history with race.

Obama Uses N-Word, Talks Race

“Racism, we are not cured of it,” Obama said during an appearance on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.”

“That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not,” the president added. “It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

Since the shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, there’s been a renewed dialogue about racism, as it is alleged that the shooter espoused white supremacist world views and had endeavored to start a race war in America. While acknowledging that racism continues to be a problem in the country, Obama also pointed out that it would be remiss not to acknowledge that a lot of progress has been made over the decades.

“I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you’ve lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ’60s or ’70s,” Obama said. “It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours.”

Obama believes that the Charleston shooting should not only serve to create more dialogue on race, but to also further the discussion about gun safety laws in the U.S.

“It’s not enough just to feel bad. There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. One of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic common sense gun safety laws,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong. I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress.”

Police have arrested and charged 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof with the murders of the nine churchgoers. Over the weekend, a website that may have been created by Roof featured a racist manifesto and a possible explanation for the shootings, as well as pictures of the suspected killer posing with a gun and confederate flags. The federal inquiry into the murders is looking into possible hate crime violations, as well as the possibility that the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism.

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