Obama urges per­sis­tence in fight­ing rAcism

Lesotho Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON — US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said ban­ish­ing racism in the United States can only hap­pen in­cre­men­tally, and urged young peo­ple to “be per­sis­tent” in fight­ing bias.

He was speak­ing as protests con­tinue in ci­ties across the United States, where thou­sands have gath­ered over the past two weeks to con­demn a spate of killings of black sus­pects by white po­lice.

“This isn’t go­ing to be solved overnight, this is some­thing that is deeply rooted in our so­ci­ety, it’s deeply rooted in our his­tory,” Mr Obama said in an in­ter­view with Black En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion that aired on Mon­day.

He urged young peo­ple to press on in their fight against racism, and said pa­tience was cru­cial.

“We have to be per­sis­tent, be­cause typ­i­cally progress is in steps, it’s in in­cre­ments,” he said.

Deeply rooted “When you’re deal­ing with some­thing as deeply rooted as racism, or bias, in any so­ci­ety, you’ve got to have vig­i­lance but you have to recog­nise that it’s go­ing to take some time.”

“But we can’t just wait for that process to hap­pen on its own,” Mr Obama added.

“It also re­quires pol­icy changes. It re­quires train­ing. It re­quires spe­cific steps by po­lice de­part­ments, start­ing from the top, in or­der to change some of th­ese mind­sets.”

Mr Obama said race re­la­tions had im­proved over the last 50 years, even though ten­sions per­sist.

“If you talk to par­ents, grand­par­ents, un­cles, they’ll tell you that things are bet­ter, not good in some cases, but bet­ter.”

“I want my grand­sons to be treated like any­body else’s grand­sons,” Mr Obama said.

Se­ries of po­lice killings A se­ries of po­lice killings of African Amer­i­can sus­pects in the United States has sparked wide­spread anger and ig­nited a na­tional de­bate about race re­la­tions and po­lice tac­tics.

“Part of what I think is so heart-break­ing and frus­trat­ing for a lot of folks when they watch this is the recog­ni­tion that sim­ply by virtue of colour you’ve got less mar­gin for er­ror. And that’s par­tic­u­larly true for black boys.”

In Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, and New York City, two sep­a­rate grand juries de­cided not to in­dict white of­fi­cers in­volved in the killing of black sus­pects, set­ting off a wave of demon­stra­tions na­tion­wide.

“A coun­try’s conscience some­times has to be trig­gered by some in­con­ve­nience,” Mr Obama said, call­ing peace­ful protests “nec­es­sary”.

“When they turn vi­o­lent, then they’re coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.”

Demon­stra­tions were on­go­ing Mon­day night in Wash­ing­ton, New York, and Berke­ley, a Cal­i­for­nia city where van­dal­is­ing, loot­ing and clashes oc­curred over the past two nights. Protests were also sched­uled for Los An­ge­les. — AFP

A pro­tes­tor holds a sign dur­ing a demon­stra­tion against po­lice bru­tal­ity on Mon­day in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.

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