President Obama's remarks on race 55 words

On Friday President Obama gave surprise remarks on race in America in the White House briefing room. Here are the definitions and the President's usage of 55 words from the address to help you untangle this delicate issue. (July 19, 2013)
  1. preliminary
    denoting an action or event preceding or in preparation for something more important; designed to orient or acquaint with a situation before proceeding
    I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.
  2. expand
    make bigger or wider in size, volume, or quantity
    I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.
  3. grace
    a disposition to kindness and compassion
    First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.
  4. dignity
    the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
    First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.
  5. reiterate
    to say, state, or perform again
    The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case.
  6. legal
    established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules
    I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.
  7. prosecution
    the institution and conduct of legal proceedings against a defendant for criminal behavior
    The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.
  8. defense
    the act of defending someone or something against attack or injury
    The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.
  9. jury
    a body of citizens sworn to give a true verdict according to the evidence presented in a court of law
    The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.
  10. relevant
    having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
    The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.
  11. render
    give or supply
    The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.
  12. verdict
    (law) the findings of a jury on issues of fact submitted to it for decision; can be used in formulating a judgment
    The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.
  13. context
    the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event
    But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.
  14. exaggerate
    to enlarge beyond bounds or the truth
    And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.
  15. interpret
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
    And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.
  16. disparity
    inequality or difference in some respect
    The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.
  17. penalty
    the disadvantage or painful consequences of an action or condition
    The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.
  18. enforcement
    the act of enforcing; ensuring observance of or obedience to
    The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.
  19. naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience
    Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naïve about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.
  20. perpetrator
    someone who perpetrates wrongdoing
    Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naïve about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.
  21. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions
    We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.
  22. dysfunction
    (medicine) any disturbance in the functioning of an organ or body part or a disturbance in the functioning of a social group
    We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.
  23. peer
    a person who is of equal standing with another in a group
    I think the African-American community is also not naïve in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.
  24. deny
    refuse to recognize or acknowledge
    So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied.
  25. scenario
    a postulated sequence of possible events
    And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.
  26. aftermath
    the consequences of an event (especially a catastrophic event)
    And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.
  27. demonstration
    a public display of group feelings (usually of a political nature)
    You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent.
  28. vigil
    the rite of staying awake for devotional purposes (especially on the eve of a religious festival)
    You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent.
  29. protest
    a formal and solemn declaration of objection
    You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent.
  30. concrete
    capable of being perceived by the senses; not abstract or imaginary
    But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do?
  31. legislation
    the act of making or enacting laws
    You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation.
  32. potential
    existing in possibility
    But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
  33. bias
    a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation
    But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
  34. altercation
    noisy quarrel
    Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.
  35. confrontation
    discord resulting from a clash of ideas or opinions
    Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.
  36. tragedy
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.
  37. commentary
    a written explanation or criticism or illustration that is added to a book or other textual material
    I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the Stand Your Ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.
  38. ambiguous
    having more than one possible meaning
    And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
  39. bolster
    support and strengthen
    Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys?
  40. reinforce
    strengthen and support with rewards
    Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys?
  41. negative
    characterized by or displaying negation or denial or opposition or resistance; having no positive features
    There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.
  42. reinforcement
    an act performed to strengthen approved behavior
    There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.
  43. invest
    provide with power and authority
    And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?
  44. prospect
    the possibility of future success
    You know, I’m not naïve about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.
  45. convene
    call together
    You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.
  46. clergy
    in Christianity, clergymen collectively (as distinguished from the laity)
    And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.
  47. tragic
    very sad; especially involving grief or death or destruction
    And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.
  48. politician
    a leader engaged in civil administration
    I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.
  49. stilted
    artificially formal
    They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.
  50. successive
    in regular succession without gaps
    Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.
  51. generation
    group of genetically related organisms constituting a single step in the line of descent
    Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.
  52. racism
    the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races
    It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.
  53. eliminate
    terminate, end, or take out
    It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.
  54. vigilant
    carefully observant or attentive; on the lookout for possible danger
    And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.
  55. union
    the state of being joined or united or linked
    But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.