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Obama: Racism, bias in US will take time to tackle

December 7, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is prescribing time and vigilance to tackle problems as entrenched in American society as racism and bias.

He also is urging patience, saying progress usually comes in small steps.

In an interview with BET (Black Entertainment Television), a cable TV channel, the president described his conversation with a group of young civil rights activists, including a leader of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, he hosted last week in the White House. Racial tensions have been heightened by the failure of grand juries in Missouri and New York to indict white police officers involved in the killings of unarmed black men.

Obama said he told them that “this is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history.”

America has made gains, he said, and that “gives us hope” of making more progress.

“We can’t equate what is happening now to what was happening 50 years ago,” Obama said, “and if you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better, not good in some places, but better.”

Obama said he is advising young people to be persistent because “typically progress is in steps, it’s in increments.”

In dealing with something “as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time and you just have to be steady so that you don’t give up when you don’t get all the way there,” Obama said.

The full interview is set to air Monday night. A video excerpt was released Sunday.

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