Former President Barack Obama raised eyebrows during an interview with legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday with a claim that he once broke a friend’s nose over a racial slur.
Obama, who was appearing on Springsteen’s “Renegades” podcast, alleged the fight occurred in a school locker room.
“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” Obama told Springsteen. “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?” Obama continued. “It’s one of those things that — where he might not even known what a c**n was — what he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this.’”
“And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room,” Obama continued.
“Well done,” Springsteen responded.
(Relevant portion below at about the 28:40 mark)
“I explained to him — I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that,’” the 44th president said, adding that racial slurs amount 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?'” Obama told the rocker. “‘I’m not you.'”
“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,” the former president said.
The incident, which may be the first time Obama discussed it in public, created some pushback and skepticism online.
“Awesome. Give us the name. Should be easy to check this story,” one Twitter user wrote.
Awesome. Give us the name. Should be easy to check this story.
— Tigers Ruledude (@Tigersruledude) February 24, 2021
— 🇺🇸Reparations till the wheels fall off (@voteweaponizer) February 24, 2021
“And after that he blasted some tupac, lit up a joint and exit the room poplocking and everyone clapped,” another wrote.
And after that he blasted some tupac, lit up a joint and exit the room poplocking and everyone clapped
— happy ted (@drkaczynski) February 24, 2021
“2 autobiographies and one memoir, and we are for the first time every [sic] hearing about this?” said another.
2 autobiographies and one memoir, and we are for the first time every hearing about this? 🧐
— The She Who Said That’s (@knc2000us) February 24, 2021
Things that never happened for $500 Alex!
— Daniel Thompson (@bighuskerdan) February 24, 2021
Obama has been criticized in the past for using race as a political tool. In August, columnist Larry Elder blasted the former president for using “the race card” during a eulogy for the late civil rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis.
Obama referenced former Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor and former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, both of whom were rabid segregationists, and likened them to then-President Donald Trump.
As for his claim that he broke a friend’s nose in a fight over a racial slur, it wouldn’t be the first time Obama was less than honest.
In 2009, for instance, as he was touting his signature healthcare legislation, Obama said he wasn’t for “single-payer” plans — that is, full-on government-controlled health insurance — though in 2003 he told a fundraising event hosted by the AFL-CIO that he did support it.
Also, Obama made several false promises about “Obamacare” including claims that healthcare premiums and deductibles would fall, and that all Americans would be insured.
In 2017, CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that “President Obama said things that weren’t true and got away with it more for a variety of reasons, and one is the media was much more supportive of him.”