WATCH: Ta-Nehisi Coates Talks to President Obama About Social, Political Construction of Race

By Kenrya Rankin Dec 12, 2016

The full text of the January/February 2017 double issue of The Atlantic is not yet available online, but the cover story is already generating attention.


In “My President Was Black,” Ta-Nehisi Coates talks to President Barack Obama about how he—the nation’s first Black president—approaches race both personally and politically. Ahead of the release of the cover story, The Atlantic posted illustrated audio on Friday (December 9) of an interview Coates conducted with Obama. Listen in as Obama breaks down how his mixed racial background influenced his approach to winning the White House, and how spending time abroad shapes his view of America’s racial politics and dynamics as part of a global whole, “rather than something that was unique and I was trapped in.”

Obama also describes how race as a construct lead to the election of Donald Trump. “The suspicion between races in part comes out of people’s daily interactions and the fact that we’re segregated by communities and by schools and our churches. But some of it is constructed on a constant basis. It’s being created all the time,” he says. “Good people who are not instinctively afraid or concerned about an African American in authority can be made afraid and suspicious and fearful because of what they’re seeing, hearing and reading, if its not attached to the facts and the evidence and reality. It has shaped an entire generation of voters and tapped into their deepest anxieties.”

Watch the illustrated excerpt above. The print issue isn’t slated to hit newsstands until December 20, but the cover story will be published online tomorrow (December 13).