Obama tells Springsteen he once broke a high school classmate’s after he called him a racial slur


Former President Barack Obama has revealed that he once broke a classmate’s nose after he called him a racial slur during a locker room fight in high school.

Obama, 59, opened up publicly for the first time about the incident in the second episode of his new Spotify podcast with singer Bruce Springsteen, titled Renegades: Born in the USA. 

‘Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,’ the 44th US President began during a wide-ranging conversation about race.

‘And one time we got into a fight and he called me a c***,’ he said, before quipping of his Aloha State upbringing, ‘Now first of all, ain’t no c***s in Hawaii, right?’

‘It’s one of those things that — where he might not even known what a c*** was — what he knew was, “I can hurt you by saying this”.’

Obama then laughed as he added: ‘And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room.’

‘Well done,’ Springsteen responded.

Obama, 59, opened up publicly for the first time about the incident in the second episode of his new Spotify podcast with singer Bruce Springsteen, titled Renegades: Born in the USA

Obama, 59, opened up publicly for the first time about the incident in the second episode of his new Spotify podcast with singer Bruce Springsteen, titled Renegades: Born in the USA.

Obama pictured in 1979

Obama while playing as a guard for the state champion Punahou School basketball team the same year

Obama (above in 1979) said the incident occurred during his high school years at Punahou School, with one of his teammate on the basketball team

When the classmate asked Obama ‘”Why’d you do that?”‘ he says he then explained to his friend, ‘”Don’t you ever call me something like that”.’

It’s believed to be the first time Obama has ever disclosed the incident publicly.

Racism or using racial slurs, Obama said, comes down to ‘an assertion of status over the other’. 

‘”I may be poor. I may be ignorant. I may be mean. I may be ugly. I may not like myself. I may be unhappy. But you know what I’m not? I’m not you”,’ Obama told Springsteen.

‘That basic psychology that then gets institutionalized is used to justify dehumanizing somebody, taking advantage of them, cheating them, stealing from them, killing them, raping them,’ Obama explained.

‘Whatever it is, at the end of the day it really comes down to that. And in some cases it’s as simple as, you know, “I’m scared I’m insignificant and not important. And this thing is the thing that’s going to give me some importance”.’

Springsteen told Obama he witnessed similar incidents involving his close friend, the late saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who was black. 

Obama then laughed as he added: 'And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room' (Obama pictured during a promotional shoot)

Obama then laughed as he added: ‘And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room’ (Obama pictured during a promotional shoot)

Obama is seen above at his Punahou School graduation in 1979

his photo provided by the Punahou School shows Barak "Barry" Obama, second row right, in a 1978 senior yearbook photo

Obama is seen above, left, at his Punahou School graduation in 1979, and, right, with during his senior yearbook photo shoot the same year

The Born In the USA singer said he and Clemons had been in a club one night when someone called Clemons the ‘n-word’.

Springsteen said he saw how upset Clemons was about the incident, especially because the person who used the racial epithet was an acquaintance of his E Street Band. 

The 71-year-old then recalled a time when they’d been touring the Ivory Coast together, and ‘came out to a stadium of entirely black faces.’

‘And we stand there for a moment,’ Springsteen said, ‘and Clarence comes over and says, ‘Well, now you know how it feels.”‘

Springsteen was friends with Clemons for more than four decades, until his death in 2011.

Speaking to their close bond, Springsteen said: ‘It’s never something that comes again. You know? It… 45 years. And the only thing we never kidded ourselves about was that race didn’t matter. We lived together. We traveled throughout the United States, and we were probably as close as two people could be.

‘Yet at the same time, I always had to recognize there was a part of Clarence that I wasn’t ever really going to exactly know and ah… it was a relationship unlike any other that I’ve ever had in my… ever had in my life.’

Springsteen continued that for Clemons to get attention in the industry after a decade of doors being closed in his face, he had to ‘team up with a white man’ who was seven years younger his junior.

Springsteen told Obama he witnessed similar incidents involving his close friend, the late saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who was black

The Born In the USA singer said he and Clemons (left) had been in a club one night when someone called Clemons the 'n-word'

The Born In the USA singer said he and Clemons (left) had been in a club one night when someone called Clemons the ‘n-word’

The rock legend then posed a question to Obama, asking him if he thought the America of today was ready to ‘deconstruct its founding myths’ or consider reparations. 

‘So if you ask me theoretically, “Are reparations justified?” The answer is yes,’ Obama said. ‘There’s not much question. Right? That the wealth of this country, the power of this country, was built in significant part, not exclusively maybe not the even majority of it, but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves. They built the house that I stayed in for a while.’

Obama continued: ‘What is also true is that even after the end of formal slavery, and the continuation of Jim Crow, the systematic oppression and discrimination of Black Americans resulted in Black families not being able to build up wealth, not being able to compete, and that has generational effects. 

‘So if you’re thinking of what’s just, you would look back and you would say, “The descendants of those who suffered those kinds of terrible, cruel, often arbitrary injustices deserve some sort of redress, some sort of compensation — a recognition.”‘

However, Obama said it dawned on him during his time in office that the country would not do that.

‘And so, this then brings us to “Could you actually get that kind of justice? Could you get a country to agree and own that history?”‘ Obama said. ‘And my judgment was that as a practical matter, that was unattainable. We can’t even get this country to provide decent schooling for inner-city kids.’

Still, the former president says he still sees the subject as a worthwhile topic of conversation. 

‘If for no other reason to educate the country about a past that too often isn’t taught,’ he continued, ‘and let’s face it, we’d rather forget.’

Bruce Springsteen with Michelle and Barack Obama, the first time they met, at a campaign event in 2008

Bruce Springsteen with Michelle and Barack Obama, the first time they met, at a campaign event in 2008

Obama presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to musician Bruce Springsteen during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC

Obama presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to musician Bruce Springsteen during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC

Spotify announced Renegades: Born in the USA on Monday. The eight-episode series will see Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen talk about their lives, childhoods and the state of affairs in America

Spotify announced Renegades: Born in the USA on Monday. The eight-episode series will see Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen talk about their lives, childhoods and the state of affairs in America 

Renegades: Born in the USA is a new Spotify podcast series accessible for paid subscribers and free users, in which Obama and Springsteen discuss their ‘lives, music and enduring love of America’. 

The first two episodes were released by Spotify on Monday. The first is titled Outsiders: An Unlikely Friendship and is about how the pair met.

The second is called American Skin: Race in the United States. There will be eight episodes in total, all of which will be released over the next few weeks. 

It is the second Spotify podcast project for the Obamas – Michelle launched hers, Becoming, last year.

It’s unclear how much the pair were paid for the series. It was recorded last year at Springsteen’s home in New Jersey and was made by the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground.

On November 14, Springsteen was arrested in New Jersey on a DWI charge. The full arrest report hasn’t emerged. His team says it is an incident that has been overblown but it was kept secret until earlier this month.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S NOVEMBER DWI ARREST AFTER TAKING SHOTS WITH FANS  

Springsteen was arrested on November 14 and charged with DWI at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook.

At the time, it was claimed that he was far below the legal blood alcohol content level and had just taken one shot with fans after taking a photo with them.

A cop claimed he’d seen him take a shot of Patron tequila then get on his motorcycle.

The incident embarrassed Jeep, which had just paid him for a Super Bowl ad. They pulled the ad in light of his arrest.

The incident embarrassed Jeep, which had just paid him for a Super Bowl ad. They pulled the ad in light of his arrest.

The report said he ‘smelt strongly of alcohol coming off his person and had glassy eyes’, adding he ‘was visibly swaying back and forth while I observed his eyes.’

Sources close to the singer played it down, saying: ‘When this is all resolved, I think, people are gonna have some serious doubts about the seriousness of this, especially when the actual details of this are revealed, including the blood alcohol level.’ 

The incident embarrassed Jeep, which had just paid him for a Super Bowl ad. They pulled the ad in light of his arrest. 



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