Not many are bold enough to utter the obvious, but Oprah Winfrey isn’t just anyone. The media mogul who used all her industry clout to campaign for President Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election isn’t holding her tongue anymore about the racist undertones that have existed throughout the president’s five years in office.
During an interview with the BBC last week, Winfrey said:
“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American,” she said. “There’s no question about that. And it’s the kind of thing no one ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”
Here are some examples of how the first family has been disrespected throughout their time in the White House.
An email sent by an Orange County, Calif., Republican that features the face of Obama superimposed on a chimpanzee sparked a nationwide controversy, with several groups condemning the depiction.
Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County Republican Party, apologized for the leaked email, but said she saw no reason to step down from her post. The email depicted Obama as a chimpanzee with two older chimpanzee “parents.” Superimposed on the digitally altered image? “Now you know why – No birth certificate!”
Theories by so-called “birthers” alleged that Obama’s published birth certificate was a forgery—that his actual birthplace is not Hawaii but Kenya. Other birther theories alleged that Obama became a citizen of Indonesia in childhood, thereby losing his U.S. citizenship. Still others claimed that Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen because he was born a dual citizen (British and American). Some political commentators have characterized these various claims as a racist reaction to Obama’s status as the first African-American president.
While there’s no consensus on who is responsible for starting these ridiculous rumors, prominent New York businessman Donald Trump stirred the issue. Last year, Trump offered to pay $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if the president turned over documents – even after the White House had released the president’s long form birth certificate. Trump still wouldn’t let the issue go.