Photo by Evan El-Amin

Former President Barack Obama says he once punched one of his then-friends in the nose for using a derogatory racial slur. Obama shared the story with Bruce Springstein on their Spotify podcast, “Renegades: Born in the USA,” on Feb. 22.

“Listen, 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. Now, first of all, ain’t no c**ns in Hawaii, right? It’s one of those things where he might not even have known what a c**n was,” Obama told Springstein

“What he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this,” Obama shared.

Obama said he then remembers “popping him in the face,” and breaking his nose in the locker room.

The 44th president said that racial slurs are “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?,’” Obama said to Springsteen, “I’m not you.”

Obama continued “That basic psychology that then gets institutionalized is used to justify dehumanizing somebody, taking advantage of ’em, cheatin’ ’em, stealin’ from ’em, killin’ ’em, raping ’em.” 

“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,’” he said.

Obama has repeatedly spoken about the last effects of racism but has never publicly shared this story until now.

Written ByHaley Weger

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