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Obama: Racism 'Deeply Rooted' in America

U.S. President Barack Obama is seen during a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office at the White House on Dec. 5, in Washington, D.C. Pool / Getty Images

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President Barack Obama said racism and racial bias are “deeply rooted” in America and called reducing incidents between minorities and police officers “one of the most important issues we face” in an interview that aired Monday.

Continuing his focus on race and policing after the deaths of black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City at the hands of police officers, Obama sharply rejected the idea that he is afraid to talk about these issues in an interview on BET.

“I’m being pretty explicit about my concern, this is a systemic problem, that black folks aren't making this up,” Obama told BET’s Jeff Johnson. The president suggested the death of Eric Garner, who died from a chokehold from an officer in New York, in particular had galvanized Americans of all races to look more closely at police practices.

“A lot of people who saw the Eric Garner video are troubled. Even if they haven’t had that same experience themselves. Even if they’re not African-American or Latino,” Obama said.

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