Obama talks losing white supporters and if we’ll ever see another Black president

America's first Black president sits down with White House correspondent April Ryan to discuss his new memoir 'A Promised Land'

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Former President Barack Obama had a virtual sit-down with White House correspondent April Ryan to discuss his new book, A Promised Land, which is close to two million copies sold so far, as reported by theGrio. The first of a two-part memoir discusses Obama’s groundbreaking and tumultuous tenure as the nation’s first Black President.

Ryan addressed a passage in the book about how President Obama became depressed after losing support from many white citizens over race relations. He recalled speaking about how esteemed Harvard professor and TV host Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested in 2009 for trying to get back into his own house after his door was jammed, as reported by The New York Times.

“I made a very mild comment about the fact that, well, you know, I think that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody in their own home, a 60-year-old, you know, man who posed no threat. And this became a big controversy,” said President Obama.

READ MORE: Obama: Candidates lose support with ‘snappy’ slogans like ‘defund the police’

Obama speaks at White House Press Briefing after he previously stated that Cambridge Police’s arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates in front of his home on July 16, 2009 in Cambridge was “stupidly” handled. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images)

Obama contended that he lost favor with many white constituents because it appeared that he was condemning law enforcement as a whole.

“But just the fact that I was seen questioning the police, even in a fairly balanced, modest way, you know, it really upset a bunch of folks,” he said. “And I think it indicated the degree to which the issue of police relations with minority communities, and the Black community, in particular, is always a hot topic. It is something that unearths or, you know, escalates fears.”

Ryan asked President Obama if he believed that the white people who lost favor with him eventually became supporters of his successor, President Donald Trump. While Obama did not say definitively whether or not that was the case, he did state that those aforementioned fears of whites were used as ammunition for Trump to rally them to the polls in 2016.

Read More: Obamas to produce Netflix comedy show about 2016 Trump transition

Trump Obama thegrio.com
President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images and Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“What is also true is there’s no doubt that my successor, Donald Trump, tried to fan those fears rather than fairly address them,” he said.

Now that Obama’s former Vice President Joe Biden will become the next commander-in-chief, he recognizes that millions of people see the president-elect as a new hope following the divisive Trump administration. However, he isn’t naïve. He knows that healing will take time.

“I don’t think Joe Biden is going to fix racism in America any more than I was going to fix racism in America. But I have great confidence that Joe will do and the people who surround Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House can do is to set a tone of inclusiveness, to send a message that racism is not acceptable,” said Obama.

One way to help ensure the Biden administration will have any success is having a Senate without a Republican majority. While the former president is still uncertain if he’ll physically travel to Georgia to help campaign for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in the state’s Senate run-offs in January, he says he’ll be “active” in his support, as it will affect Biden’s ability to bring forth important changes for disenfranchised communities.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Calling the Georgia run-offs “ground zero” in terms of being a crucial event to ensure Biden’s ability to get legislation passed that aids Black Americans, President Obama wants to see voters educating themselves on the issues and maintaining their enthusiasm to vote in the run-off.

“I hope you guys are even more activated now than you were in November because the control of the Senate will be determined in Georgia,” President Obama said.

“If Democrats are able to tie up the Senate where it’s 50/50 and the vice president is the tiebreaker, that could make the difference in terms of can we, you know, have a significant, you know, recovery, economic recovery bill that helps, you know, African-American businesses and small businesses that are hurting and helps frontline workers who are about to see relief, you know, support run out.”

Read More: Almost 90 percent of Black women voters in Georgia likely to vote in runoff

President Trump has often referred to numerous news outlets and reporters as “fake news” over the years, with Ryan often being a personal target of Trump’s condemnation. She asked President Obama if he felt that with Trump gone, will a Biden administration restore the respect and trust between the White House and the press.

“I think you’ll see some return to the norms that had been followed not just by me, but by Republicans and Democrats prior to me,” President Obama stated. “I do think we’re still going to have challenges with respect to the splintering of the press and major news outlets and emerging news outlets, as well as social media sites that do not follow the basic standards and tenets of the press that you learned your craft, you know, coming up, observing.”

April Ryan asks President Donald Trump a question during White House press briefing. (Photo: CNN)

President Obama feels that select news publications and stations have been biased for the Trump administration and that’s been more harmful than Trump’s scathing rhetoric against outlets like CNN and MSNBC.

“You look at companies like a Newsmax that just are mimicking the wild accusations, unfounded accusations made by Donald Trump about this election without regard to any support or evidence of these claims, and lots of people are soaking that in. A lot of people are believing that,” he said.

He added that “some thought pressure and conversation” from the public is a method to hold such outlets accountable for the type of news coverage that reaches and influences the masses.

“All of us are going to have to figure out how do we get back to the point where the truth means something and that you can’t just make stuff up and suddenly half the country believes it, and that’s something that will take effort beyond the White House in order for us to get back to that point.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

READ MORE: Obamas to produce Netflix comedy show about 2016 Trump transition

With Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being the first woman vice president as well as the first Black vice president, President Obama recognized that his administration opened doors for such an appointment.

“We broke that barrier and I say we because it was a collective effort, it wasn’t just me, it was all people who voted for me, all the staff and volunteers who worked on my behalf.”

When Ryan asked if this meant that the nation was ready for another Black president in the near future, President Obama said the gates are now open for various minorities to reach the Oval Office.

(Photo: Getty Images)

“I think we are getting now to the point where women can aspire and become president, people of color, not just Black, but Latino and Asian American and, you know. Other backgrounds can become president.”

However, he also believes that whoever that may be, they need to be ready for extra observations from the press and potential opponents.

“What I think we all have to acknowledge is that there are going to be some additional burdens for some time to come, for those who don’t look like most of the other presidents, you’re going to be under some different scrutiny.”

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