close and back to page

Latest News

Latest News

Oprah: President Obama Disrespected Because He's Black, Racism 'Has to Die'

In a BBC interview, Oprah shares her views on modern racism and how race has affected people's views of President Obama.

It's a question many Americans seemingly have tried to avoid answering, like a truth they don't want to confront: Does race play a role in how people view President Obama? According to Oprah Winfrey, the answer is definitely yes.


"There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases—and maybe even many cases—because he's African-American," the media mogul told the BBC during an interview about her movie, The Butler, and modern racism in America. "Has it ever crossed my mind? It's crossed my mind probably as many times as it's crossed your mind. Probably, it's crossed my mind more times than it's crossed your mind," she answered when asked if she ever thought that the President was treated any differently because he's Black.

"Just the level of disrespect. When the Senator yelled out, 'You're a liar,' remember that?" Winfrey asked, referring to South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson's breach of decorum when President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress in September 2009.

That disrespect is shown to the President and his position is a bigger indication that America is not yet in a post-racial society, according to Winfrey. "As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin," she said, "the problem is not solved.

"It would be foolish to not recognize that we have evolved and that we're not still facing the same kind of terrorism against Black people en masse as was displayed with the Scottsboro Boys. It's gotten better, [but] are there still places where people are terrorized because of the color of the skin, the color of their Black skin? Yes.

"There's a whole generation," she continued, "there are still generations of older people who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism. And they just have to die."

The Impact of Race in Politics

Even before Winfrey's interview aired, another journalist brought up the issue of race in politics using a different example. "People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York—a white man married to a Black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts—but not all—of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all," wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, bringing up the kind of moot points (McCray's comments about being a lesbian came 20 years ago) that show American discomfort with diversity in politics.

In a recent ABC News poll, only 23 percent of Americans thought having more diversity in Congress would be good for the country, further demonstrating that uneasiness.

Conservative pundits jumped on Winfrey's comments. Radio host Rush Limbaugh took to the offensive on the airwaves, pointing out that race was not a stumbling block to Winfrey's own success. "If Black people in this country are so mistreated and so disrespected, how in the name of Sam Hill did you happen? Would somebody explain that to me? If there's a level of disrespect simply because he's Black, then how, Oprah, have you managed to become the—at one time—most popular and certainly wealthiest television personality? How does that happen?"

Winfrey, however, has faced her own racist incidents—including being profiled while shopping, an issue that has made headlines recently because of lawsuits against Barneys New York, Macy's and Alexander McQueen.

The Conversation

White Man Calls Cops on Black Politician: 'They Are Waiting for Drugs at the Local Drug House'

Despite her experience, politician Sheila Stubbs exchanged numbers with the officer, offering to help the police with race relations in other neighborhoods.

Sheila Stubbs was canvassing a predominantly white neighborhood in her jurisdiction of Madison, Wisc., when the police showed up to question her. They asked how Stubbs knew what houses to approach, and for her materials, which she provided. Then police apologized, saying, "I'm sorry this happened to you."

Read More Show Less

School Superintendent on Texans' Deshaun Watson: 'You Can't Count on a Black Quarterback'

Lynn Redden makes a racist Facebook post then offers a canned apology.

Lynn Redden

Onalaska School Superintendent, Lynn Redden, could be in hot water after making racist statements about a Black NFL player on Facebook.

Read More Show Less

Beto O'Rourke Calls for Amber Guyger to Be Fired From Dallas Police Force

"I don't understand given the actions how anyone can come to any other conclusion," O'Rourke said.

Beto O'Rourke, the outspoken Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful, suggested at a rally on Friday that Amber Guyger should be fired from the Dallas Police Force.

Read More Show Less

Florida's Hope Scholarship Looks to Stop Bullying But Leaves Out Black Students

Why are Black children always targeted for their hair?

Florida's new school voucher program was designed to help students escape bullying in public schools by giving public funds to students to attend private schools.

Read More Show Less

Neo-Nazis Hear Ron 'Monkey This Up' DeSantis' Dog Whistle, Respond with Racist Robocalls Targeting Andrew Gillum

The call going out to Florida voters is narrated by a man using a minstrel dialect with jungle noises in the background.

REUTERS

The first Black nominee from a major party for Florida governor is now the target of racist robocalls, which come after the GOP nominee's dog whistling comment.

Read More Show Less

Obama Reportedly Surprised by McCain's Eulogy Request

"We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed," Obama said of McCain.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will pay tribute to Sen. John McCain during a Saturday funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.

Read More Show Less

White Women Get Black Reporter Fired for Sharing Article on White Privilege

Twitter users put Lisa Benson Cooper's story back on the map by condemning the news station.

FACEBOOK/ Lisa Benson

Lisa Benson Cooper, a Black TV reporter, was fired from her job for making her white female colleagues feel uncomfortable about their privilege.

Ruby Hamad, author of The Guardian article, "How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour," heard that Cooper was suspended, then fired, for sharing the article on Facebook. As a result, Hamad has ignited backlash against the Kansas City television news station and it's picking up steam on social media.

Read More Show Less

Jesse Jackson: Use of the 'N-Word' is Far From the Only Measure of Racism

"We can't allow Trump to dumb down racism, limiting the standard to whether one utters the n-word or not," writes Rev. Jackson.

By Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

Last week, amid the continuing clamor of Trump's chaos presidency, the question of whether Trump had used the n-word became a media sensation.

Read More Show Less