Since President Obama first stepped into the White House in 2009, he’s tried his best to avoid the controversial topic of race. He’s perfected the art of skimming across the issue in interviews and strategically going there without really going there.
Well, the two-term President has finally opened up about life as America’s first Black Commander in Chief, admitting that the job comes with its share of haters.
“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama told The New Yorker in an interview for his 17,000-word profile in the magazine’s Jan. 27 issue. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”
The POTUS went on to say that his party has often times ignored “the concerns of middle- and working-class folks, black or white.”
“And this was one of the great gifts of Bill Clinton to the Party—to say, you know what, it’s entirely legitimate for folks to be concerned about getting mugged, and you can’t just talk about police abuse,” he explained. “How about folks not feeling safe outside their homes? It’s all fine and good for you to want to do something about poverty, but if the only mechanism you have is raising taxes on folks who are already feeling strapped, then maybe you need to widen your lens a little bit. And I think that the Democratic Party is better for it.”
As far has his legacy, Obama revealed that presidents have limited power to change and must operate through the currents of history.
“[D]espite being the greatest President, in my mind, in our history, it took another hundred and fifty years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality,” she said of Abraham Lincoln. “I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.” Magazine editor David Remnick concluded the story by writing, “I just wanted to add one thing to that business about the great-man theory of history. The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” Obama then added, “Not ‘probably’. It’s definitely a good thing.”
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1. Debra Lee
"My favorite thing about the President is his commitment to people and the world [and] his ability to listen; the fact that he's smart and he has smart people around him; the way he empathizes with people. The way he handled the Newtown situation was just really incredible, and he's done that with all the issues that have come along during his first term. I'm looking forward to him being more comfortable going around and knowing the politics and accomplishing a lot more."
2. Tatyana Ali
"He smells good." [laughs] "The thing that I love about him, is his humility. He's really a humble man and he's a servant and that's not hype. He's here to be of service and I love that from a leader."
3. Ben Jealous-NAACP President
"He's cool. He has poise and swagger. He has cleaned his opponent two times in a row, and that's the best thing a president can do."
4. Boris Kodjoe
"I just like his leadership and swag. He's so aware of what the world needs. He's selfless. He has integrity, pride and commitment."
5. Mikki Taylor
"I think the most amazing thing about President Obama is he is his most authentic self and very much like the First Lady. He means what he says and he says what he means. He's not impacted by the impression of others. He says with great affirmation, 'We, the people.' That is what swells my heart with great joy."
6. Wilmer Valderamma
"He's one of the first presidents since Bill Clinton that we've been able to feel he's with us, right next to us. He feels like a neighbor to us. I respect his commitment to his agenda and looking forward to seeing a more aggressive Obama in the next four years and taking the knowledge and experience he's had in the last four years and implementing it with a sense of urgency. I hope he immediately attacks the immigration reform, which is what the Latin community really needs--to see the president is confident and the same time, honor the people who helped vote him in. Gay and lesbian rights is very important and and most importantly unite all cultures. I'm excited because he's a defining president and it feels like he's found a groove."
7. Wayne Brady
"Not only is he the leader of the free world--and this isn't because of race--he's the coolest president next to Bill Clinton, that we've ever had. When it's time to be stern, he does the 'president' thing. But then who busts out and sings, 'I'm so in love with you...' If he's not the coolest president, just for that? He gives orders to our nation's fleets and busts out Al Green. He wins."
8. Gabrielle Union
"Is it weird to say that he's black? All the things I'm thinking of, I so can't say!" [laughs] "You can see that he loves his wife and he loves his daughters. He's raising these two dope, beautiful, funny black women to be strong, fly and independent."
9. MC Lyte
"He remains calm in situations where it's most likely that others would be more revved up. Out of that calmness, we're able to see his vulnerability."
10. Kenny Lattimore
"I have a song called 'Built For Last,' and it speaks about the heart of a man I believe as a great leader, when I look at this man and the tenacity and he stands so confident, in spite of every obstacle and things that are thrown at him--it's an amazing characteristic. It's the reason we confide in him."
11. Judge Mathis
"His swag. He got it from me. I knew him from Chicago and we used to hang a little together. He saw my walk, and now he's president and I see him walking like me." [laughs]
12. Shaun Robinson
"I just think that he's a great role model. He's an honest man and he wants the best for everyone. I love the way he looks at his wife, Michelle. Every woman looks at him and how he looks at Michelle, like, 'Oh my God! That's so amazing!'"