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Obama Recounts That Time He Broke a Friend's Nose

He also talks reparations on 'Renegades' podcast
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2021 4:28 PM CST

(Newser) – Barack Obama usually comes off as calm, cool, and collected. But that isn’t always the case. For example, as a boy in Hawaii he once punched a friend in the face over a racial slur. In the second episode of his podcast collaboration with musician Bruce Springsteen, the former president recounts that story during a discussion about racism in the United States, Vanity Fair reports. "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," Obama recalls in the episode of Renegades: Born in the USA that was released Monday. "I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. It was just reactive. I said, 'What?' and I popped him. He was like, 'Why'd you do that?' and I explained to him, I said, 'Don't you ever call me something like that.'"

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Obama acknowledges that the boy may not understood the slur he was using, per the HuffPost, but he adds, "What he knew was, 'I can hurt you by saying this.'" During the talk, Obama boils down racism to the "assertion of status over another" driven by a fear that "I'm insignificant and not important. And this thing is the thing that's going to give me some importance." Obama and Springsteen also tackle the topic of reparations, with Obama saying that they are "justified," Fox News reports. But, he adds, that during his presidency the prospect of proposing reparations "struck me as, politically, not only a nonstarter but potentially counterproductive." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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