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.

Freeman certainly isn’t the first to bring up the question of just who is authentically black.

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.

Many would prefer that Freeman keep his opinion to himself.

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.

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