Obama: "Never A Realistic Expectation" That Racism Would Be Eliminated Under My Presidency

President Obama talks about racism in America in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos: <blockquote>GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, THIS WEEK: One-- one possible big exception: In the first line of your biography it's probably going to be "first African-American president." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. STEPHANOPOULOS: The heart of your promise when you first burst on the national scene, bringing everyone together. And you look now and most African-Americans think we've gone backwards on race relations over the last eight years. What do you say to that? OBAMA: I-- (SIGH) I am absolutely convinced that race relations on the whole are actually better now than they were 20 years-- STEPHANOPOULOS: Better now? OBAMA: Yes. But we have greater awareness of where we're falling short than we used to. Let's just take the example of-- community police relations. I mean, the truth of the matter is that-- that the problem of police shootings and reactions in the community-- George, you and I are about the same age. I-- I think you remember what happened in Los Angeles after Rodney King, I think you remember what-- the divisions that happened after the O.J. trial. I think you -- the-- the notion that somehow any of that is new isn't the case. What is true, though, is now we've got a bunch of videos that whatever side of the issue you're on, raises the temperature on these issues and makes people really focused and-- and-- and-- and trying to figure out, "What exactly is this?" And I think that is a healthy thing. But I also-- I'm not so out of touch that I don't see how young people interact today. And what's-- STEPHANOPOULOS: That horrific Facebook Live video yesterday-- OBAMA: And, well, it was horrific. And that's an example of something that it's not as if that's the first time that a hate crime has taken place in this country. Hate crimes have been taking place for hundreds of years in this country, but it's there on video. And the-- the-- the sort of seeing cruelty and callousness of that sort from young people is heartbreaking. And so naturally if you see a video like that you're gonna say to yourself, "My God, this is horrible," and-- and rightfully so. But that allows us then to talk about how-- how-- how do we break free from those kinds of attitudes? And I think that we are in a position to continue to make progress, but it's gonna require us to both recognize what the problems are, also recognize the-- the-- the progress we've made. Last point I'd make on this, since we're on criminal justice: During the course of my presidency crime has been the lowest it's been probably since the '60s. But you wouldn't know it if you were watching TV or looking at the internet, and you certainly wouldn't know it, listening to this past campaign. There are some exceptions: Chicago, my hometown, in particular. But overall in the country this is a much safer place than it used to be. But if you ask the average person they'd tell ya, "Naw, it's much more dangerous," despite the fact that violent crime has dropped precipitously. And so we have to recognize we've got some big problems on race, just like we got still big problems on crime, just like we got big problems on just about everything. But we also have to make sure that we've-- draw confidence from the progress that we have made, 'cause otherwise, you get into this cycle of cynicism. And you're also-- and I warn young people that I interact with about this-- you get into unrealistic expectations where you think that, "Oh, we're gonna eliminate racism like that. After Obama's elected how could there be any racism?" (LAUGH) Well, you know, that-- that-- that was never a realistic expectation.</blockquote>