Former President Barack Obama (D) says he broke a classmate’s nose for calling him a racial slur.
In an episode of his new podcast with singer Bruce Springsteen called “Renegades: Born in the USA,” Obama shared the story. He said, “Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together.”
“And one time we got into a fight, and he called me a c**n,” he continued. “Now, first of all, ain’t no c**ns in Hawaii, right?”
Obama suggested that “he might not even known what a c**n was.” But, he said, “What he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this.”
“And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose and we were in the locker room.”
The former president said, “I explained to him… I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that.'”
Listen to the podcast below (beginning at 28:40)
He went on to say that person’s decision to use a racial slur stems from “an assertion of status over the other.”
“The claim is made that no matter what I am… 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 argued, “That basic psychology that then gets institutionalized, is used to justify dehumanizing somebody.”
“Whatever it is, at the end of the day, it really comes down to that. And in some cases it’s as simple as, you know, ‘I’m scared I’m insignificant and not important. And this thing is the thing that’s going to give me some importance,'” he added.
The first two episodes of Obama and Springsteen’s podcast were released on Spotify on Monday.