NEW YORK – During his appearance on ‘The View’ this morning, President Obama joked about the size of his ears (“My wife says she can hear the ocean in them!”), spoke earnestly about tackling global warming and showed heartfelt concern about violence in the Middle East. But when the conversation turned to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, President Obama’s remarks caught the show’s hosts by surprise. Following is a transcript of that segment of the interview.
BARBARA WALTERS: Mr. President, what went through your mind when you heard that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the death of little Trayvon Martin?
OBAMA: When the verdict came in, a part of me was very disappointed. That part of me grieved for the Martin family. It wanted justice, no matter what we had to do to get it. That part of me yelled out, I am Trayvon Martin.
JOY BEHAR: Is there another part of you, Mr. President?
OBAMA: Yes there is, Joy. There’s the white part of me.
SHERRI SHEPHERD: And how did the white part of you react to the verdict, Mr. President?
OBAMA: Well, Sherri, the white part of me was overjoyed, giddy even. The news of Zimmerman’s acquittal had the same effect Jeremiah Wright sermons have on the black part of me.
BARBARA WALTERS: Did the white part of you rejoice because the life of a black person just isn’t as important as the life of a white person, Mr. President?
OBAMA: Unfortunately, yes.
(Joy Behar gasped)
OBAMA: Of course it is, Whoopi. But he can’t help himself. Heck, we now know that racism is inherent in all white people. We’ve learned that from Chris Matthews.
BARBARA: Whoopi? I can see the wheels turning. What are you thinking?
WHOOPI: I uh, well – (Whoopie throws up her arms) Everything I know is wrong!
President Obama laughed along with the audience.
JOY: Mr. President, the other day you spoke of your own experiences with racism in the past. Are you personally affected today with issues of race?
OBAMA: Well, Joy, it can still be difficult. I mean, imagine having racist thoughts about African Americans and then seeing one looking back at you in the mirror. It can be terrifying.
JOY: Oh, Mr. President, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t aware that you’ve had to cope ….
OBAMA: Now, don’t pity me, Joy. Do you pity Klan members or Fox News employees? Because a part of me is no different than they are.
OBAMA: Well, I have a love hate relationship with them. Obviously, the black part of me cherishes them, but the white part of me can be very passive aggressive. The other day I asked Malia to run and get me a piece of Nicorette gum. When she got up I put my foot out and tripped her.
JOY: Oh no, Mr. President!
OBAMA: It’s what white folks do, Joy. Heck, you’re white. You know what I’m talking about.
JOY: But I’ve tried so hard, Mr. President…..
OBAMA: I feel your pain, Joy. But it’s not your fault. It’s in your DNA.
BARBARA WALTERS: Mr. President, how do those of us who are a hundred percent white redeem ourselves?
OBAMA: Maybe you could visit a black neighborhood sometime. Get to know the folks. When was the last time you visited the south side of Chicago on a Saturday night?
BARBARA WALTERS: I’m ashamed to say I never have, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Well, either have I. The truth is, the white part of me is terrified I’d get robbed, beaten and possibly thrown into a dumpster.
OBAMA: That’s probably for the best, Joy, cause you’d definitely get your ass kicked. I mean, not only are you white, but you’re a Jew.
JOY: But that’s not fair. I’ve always said really nice things about those people.
WHOOPI: OK, this is startin’ to get crazy.
BARBARA WALTERS: You know I’ve never dated a black man? But then I’ve never had one ask me out either.
OBAMA: Maybe your speech impediment scares them away.
(Barbara Walters looks shocked)
OBAMA: I’m sorry, Barbara, that was the white part of me.
SHERRI: What are your feelings on George Zimmerman, Mr. President?
OBAMA: Well, the black part of me wants to see him in prison for killing my make-believe son. The white part of me is euphoric he’s free, but would like to see his mother deported back to Peru where she belongs.
BARBARA WALTERS: We’re almost out of time, Mr. President. Before we go I’d like to ask you — if the black part of you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
OBAMA: Oh, I guess I would be a strong Oak tree, Barbara.
BARBARA WALTERS: And what kind of tree would the white part of you be?
OBAMA: I’d still be a strong Oak tree, but there would be a noose dangling from one of my branches.