President Obama Talks Race, Fatherhood With Ballerina Misty Copeland

President Obama Talks Race  Fatherhood With Ballerina Misty Copeland

President Barack Obama, with his daughters, Sasha, left, and Malia, speaks before he pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey Abe, Nov. 25, 2015, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Susan Walsh/AP Photo

(ABC News) — President Obama held a frank discussion on race and body image, and shared his insight as a father and husband in a sit-down interview with ballerina Misty Copeland.

In the interview posted by Time magazine Monday, Obama said Copeland has served as a positive role model for African-American women facing down the limitations posed by their race and gender.

“That pressure I think has historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women,” Obama said. “And the fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful. I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more.”

They also discussed the pressure of achieving and maintaining success, paralleling Obama’s experience as the first African-American president and Copeland’s as the first black female principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre.

“I feel like as I’m embarking on my first season as a principal dancer I’m experiencing something that I didn’t prepare myself for, I think emotionally and mentally and psychologically,” Copeland, 33, said. “When you have all of these expectations and goals to reach this point that 1 percent get to, you know how do you – what do you do when you get there?”

Obama said he often looks at his supporters as a way to keep himself grounded.

“You know, for all the blessings and privileges and responsibilities that I’ve gotten,” Obama, 54, said. “I’m just representing a huge cross section of people who are talented and capable and supported me getting to where I came from. So that takes a little bit of the edge off.”

Obama also mentioned his disagreement with those who believed his election meant thatracism in the country was no longer a factor.

“I remember people talking about how somehow this was going to solve all our racial problems. I wasn’t one of those who subscribed to that notion,” Obama said. “But what I want them to draw from it is a sense of justice for everybody. My view is that the strength of having been a minority on the receiving end of discrimination is that it should make you that much more attuned and empathetic towards anybody who’s vulnerable.”

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