Appearing on NPR’s “Tell Me More” to promote a new film, actor Morgan Freeman said he is “disheartened” by the current political climate and lamented that “America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet.”
First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him … they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America. There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
Twitter reaction was immediate and decidedly mixed.
Morgan Freeman is 100% right. Obama is mixed race
— Erin Hogan (@Hogan_Hero) July 6, 2012
Freeman certainly isn’t the first to bring up the question of just who is authentically black.
So Morgan Freeman, how black do you want the black president to be?
— Siddhi (@ZiddiDesai) July 6, 2012
If we adopt his theory, there are plenty of Black people that aren't 'Black enough'……he is entitled to his… http://t.co/OxLjgSBS
— Rory Douthard (@rorydouthard) July 6, 2012
His comments, of course, echo writer Toni Morrison’s much-repeated observation in 1998 that Bill Clinton was America’s first black president: “Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.” Morrison later clarified that she was referring less to Clinton himself than to his treatment during the impeachment investigation. “I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp.”
Listeners have taken Freeman’s comments much more literally and, in many cases, angrily.
Dear Morgan Freeman: PresO IS our 1st Black pres. even tho he's mixed race. Most African Americans in USA are mixed race of varying degrees.
— 'Lily' ♜ (@moonchild_1) July 6, 2012
So for Morgan Freeman to say that Obama is not black is incorrect. Obama *could* have less European DNA than some American blacks! Truth!
— Kim Love (@kimmaytube) July 6, 2012
@politico I totally respect Morgan Freeman , but he is wrong. Obama's admixture COULD be 60% African & 40% white. Not necessarily 50/50.
— Kim Love (@kimmaytube) July 6, 2012
Dnt quite agree with Morgan Freeman comments. If ur mix ur still gonna be looked as black. There's no way around it.
— Kal-El (@DA_KID999) July 6, 2012
Morgan Freeman says Obama is the first mixed raced President. And? Dude's mom was a White lady. What's the controversy? #fakeassnonsense
— Derrick S. Goard (@DSGoardWV) July 6, 2012
Obama is not the first black president because he's mixed, says Morgan Freeman (whose great-great grandfather was a white man btw).
— a real one (@NickkJagger) July 6, 2012
Morgan Freeman says US doesn't have a black prez…Which means we aren't racists! Yay! http://t.co/NW4AwxgK
— Rachel Murdock (@HawaiianAngel10) July 6, 2012
Many would prefer that Freeman keep his opinion to himself.
Morgan Freeman,your business is acting as directed not directing our country.Like everyone,you have 2 things,An OPINION and an A$$hole.
— james hall (@cedarboy1) July 6, 2012
In other words, kindly keep your blathering about the incompatibility of being "mixed race" and black to yourself, Morgan Freeman.
— Tọ́pẹ́ Fádìran (@graceishuman) July 6, 2012
This is NPR, after all, and as much anger as Freeman seems to have stirred with his comments on race, he reaffirmed his support for President Obama and laid the blame for his current disappointment firmly at the feet of Republicans who wanted no part of a “post-racial” administration. Republicans “will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say he’s ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts,” said Freeman.
At least one person managed to find a positive spin on the story either way.
Morgan Freeman says Obama isn't black enough to be USA's first president. Looks like I'll have to be the first then haha what y'all think?
— Brian White (@Mr_WHITEisRight) July 6, 2012