President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama Reuters

US President Barack Obama raised something of a media storm in a teacup in an interview released Monday when he used the N-word while discussing race relations in the US.

The comments were made as the president spoke on "WTF with Marc Maron" about the shooting last Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were murdered in an historical church by a white supremacist in his early twenties.

"Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public," Obama said.

"That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."

The shooter, Dylann Roof, was later arrested and reportedly conducted the attack against African Americans engaged in a Bible study class so as to start a "race war."

But even as he said racist effects from 200 to 300 years ago still remain, Obama said, "I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s or '60s or '70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours."

Shifting tone again, he said "the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination" still exists in American institutions and casts "a long shadow and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on."

Responding to the media frenzy over Obama's breach of the social taboo to not use the word, the White House released a statement about Obama's usage of the N-word.

"Truth is he uses the term about a dozen times in Dreams from my Father," White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said, referencing a book written by the president.