POTUS Recalls His First Childhood Experience With Racism

Thursday night (July 14) President Obama held a town hall meeting to address the nation about the racial issues tearing America a part. The hour-long Q&A style meeting was broadcasted just moments after the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, France that killed 73 people and injured 100.

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While fielding questions, the president spoke of the first time he experienced racism as a child growing up in Hawaii. When Obama was about 10, he remembers taking the elevator up to his grandparents house. A white woman who also lived on the floor–who Barack assumed knew who he was–got on the elevator, saw him, and then got off. Obama didn’t quite understand the peculiar interaction until he got older.

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“I was puzzled and I said ‘Do you want to come up?’ and she said no. Then I went up and I saw the elevator going back down and I peeked out the peep hole and see she came right back up,” Obama recalled. “But she was just worried about riding an elevator. And then over time you start learning as your crossing the street suddenly the locks started going on doors, and I do think in that sense what is true for me is true for a lot of African-American men is there’s a greater presumption of dangerousness that arises from the social and cultural perceptions that have been fed to folks for a long time.”

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was placed in an illegal chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for selling loose cigarettes outside of a convenience store, along with several other prominent members of the movement were in attendance. Despite the president’s best attempt to bring about understanding, the town hall merited a mixed bag of reactions from viewers.