In post-State of the Union interviews with three YouTube stars, President Obama talked about a broad range of subjects from Cuba to drones to policing. Comedian GloZell Green asked the president about an issue concerning African-Americans in communities around the nation: the state of their relations with law enforcement.
Green said that she recently cut the hoods off of her husband's hoodies because she's "afraid if he goes outside somebody might kill him," and the perpetrators would be "the po-po."
The president was careful to note that the "overwhelming majority" of police officers are doing a really tough job really well. But he also acknowledged that there are problems.
"We always just have to remind ourselves that the overwhelming majority of police officers, they are doing a really tough job and they are doing it well and they are doing it professionally," the president said. "What we also know is that there is still biases in our society that in split-second situations, where people have to make quick decisions, that studies have shown that African-American males are seen as more threatening which puts them in more vulnerable positions."
Obama said that training can be a key factor in helping people recognize their biases and cited a profiling bill he passed while an Illinois state senator to help tackle the problem.
"And just by the small fix of keeping track, suddenly each cop, when they were about to make a traffic stop, they had to think, 'Okay, am I stopping this person because I should be stopping him or is some bias at work?' And just that kind of mindfulness about it ended up resulting in better data, better policing, more trust by the communities that are affected. And we can do some of that same stuff and use those same tools," Obama said.
The president pointed to his policing task force, which he anticipates will deliver recommendations that will include best practices and tools to address concerns.
"And we're going to take some of those recommendations and we're going to put federal muscle behind them to see if we can make sure that communities all across the country are implemented," he said.
On a lighter note, at the end of their segment, the comedian presented Obama with three tubes of her signature green lipstick for his daughters and "first wife."
"Do you know something that I don't?" the president laughed.
Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.
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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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