“I’ve seen this movie too many times before”

The problem, as he explained it, is that Americans only worry about poor neighborhoods when there’s a crisis, failing to engage with their concerns and difficulties over time.

“People have a tendency, once the fires are out … to go back and focus on whatever reality TV thing is going on,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we don’t brush this aside after the crisis is past.”

Obama complained about “disinvested communities” where the primary economy was the drug trade, where young people were more likely to go to prison than college.

Sending police officers to clean up those kinds of communities, he explained, understandably led to “a situation of enormous tension” with the citizens.