Obama Said He Faced Racism While in Office

December 11, 2016 Last Updated: December 11, 2016

President Barack Obama, in a recent CNN interview, says he faced racism during his two terms in office.

“I think there’s a reason why attitudes about my presidency among whites in Northern states are very different from whites in Southern states,” Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, according to an interview aired on Dec. 9.

“Are there folks whose primary concern about me has been that I seem foreign, the other? Are those who champion the ‘birther’ movement feeding off of bias? Absolutely,” he said.

Obama denied that some of the problems he faced dealing with a Republican-controlled Congress were race-based, but former adviser David Axelrod has a different opinion. “It’s indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race,” he claimed on the show.

Obama also said he’s fine with being called the first black president.

“I am, actually,” he told CNN. “The concept of race in America isn’t just genetic,” but cultural, he added. Obama noted that “who look different than the mainstream” are “suffering terrible oppression” and can also make “a music, a language, and a faith, and a patriotism.”

“And an Indonesian, you can throw in there,” Obama noted, adding a reference to his stepfather Lolo Soetoro. Obama was taken to Indonesia by mother Stanley Ann Dunham, known as Ann, after she married Soetoro, in 1966. He spent several years there.

Obama’s last day in office is Jan. 20, 2017—which is Inauguration Day for President-elect Donald Trump.