Asked about what the questioner saw as an increase in racial tension Thursday, President Obama said a “tribal attitude” can come as a result of economic hardship.
“Historically, when you look at how America has evolved, typically we make progress on race relations in fits and starts,” he said at a town hall event with young Americans.
He then suggested that the recession has played a part in driving racial antagonism while he has been in office.
“Often times misunderstandings and antagonisms surface most strongly when times are tough. And that’s not surprising,” Mr. Obama said, arguing that Americans are less worried when things are going well.
He added that anxiety over not being able to pay bills–or having lost a job or a home–sometimes “organizes itself around kind of a tribal attitude, and issues of race become more prominent.”
He also said, however, that “I think the trend lines are actually good.”