Widespread discrimination within America’s justice system is not a black issue. It’s not a white issue. President Obama says it’s an issue for all.
In an exclusive with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, President Obama toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture before its public opening Saturday. The President went into detail about America’s tumultuous racial past and the many miles to go.
“It’s unrealistic to think that somehow that all just completely went away, because the Civil Rights Act was passed or because Oprah’s making a lot of money or because I was elected president. You know, that’s not how society works. And if you have hundreds of years of racial discrimination it’s likely that the vestiges of that discrimination linger on. And we should acknowledge that and own that.”
The White House has not detailed the particulars of cases surrounding recent officer-involved shootings as President Obama notes it goes against his policy, he insists law enforcement accountability, improved police training, and building community trust is what will bridge the gap.
“If you have repeated instances in which the perception is at least that this might not have been handled the same way were it not for the element of race, even if it’s unconscious … Then I think it’s important for all of us to say, ‘We want to get this right. We want to do something about it,’” he said.
Earlier this year, Obama held an ABC News town hall discussing the state America’s policing structure and the rising racial tensions in cities across the country. He maintains his initial stance that police have a difficult job to do but also noted, “justice is not always color blind.”
While he agrees that the community should be in tune with the way the police treat citizens, Obama said, “Looting, you know, burning buildings, breaking glass. Those things are not going to advance the cause.”
As he and Robin stood in front of civil rights relics inside the museum, Obama says looking back on history is what will give us a shot to advance even greater into the future.
“And then ultimately it requires, I think, all of us to search our hearts to make sure that, you know, we’re asking ourselves tough questions. Are we teaching our kids to see people for their character and not for their color?” he said.