Letterman to Obama: “How long have you been a black man?”

September 22, 2009

President Barack Obama has sought to distance himself from Jimmy Carter’s recent comment that some of the anger directed at him over the summer is because he is a black man.

lettermanBut he couldn’t avoid the issue when he appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday. His host put it to him straight, but with a healthy dose of good humor.

“Was Jimmy Carter onto something … was this unease or poor decorum rooted in racism, or is that just something to talk about?” Letterman asked.

“It’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election,” Obama answered.

“Really?” said Letterman.  “This is true,” Obama said.

“How long have you been a black man?,” Letterman asked.

        –  Pause for laughter from the audience  –

“So the American people, I think, gave me this extraordinary honor. That tells you a lot, I think, a lot about where the country is at,” Obama continued, before the interview moved on to serious issues: healthcare and Afghanistan.

 

Reuters photo by Kevin Lamarque.

23 comments

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Not that I wish to call him a liar, I must inform the President that he is “UNAWARE” that he is 50% white and in doing so has denied the very existence of the mother that gave birth to him!

Posted by DAVID | Report as abusive

That was a great answer. I liked that. I don’t like what obama is doing to my country but I have to admit He’s not stupid.

Posted by Roy Duncan | Report as abusive

its nice to see that a president can go on a cmoedy based tvhow and be asked whatever is on the hosts mind.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

Many a truth is said in jest. This is the measure of the man. I think you have a great president in the making – a meteor that comes only once in many life times!

Posted by Peng E. Teoh | Report as abusive

I think it’s amazing that he has a great sense of humor. As with any African Americans with white friends you have to have thick skin. We work along side whites as they work along side blacks. Keep your mouth shut & don’t offend anyone and you should have no race issues. All in all if your a good azz person then let the chips fall where they may. Because in the end all races are loyal to themselves. But this isn’t the end, is it????

Posted by DeeLuv | Report as abusive

Is or is he not bi racial?
Appreciate your answer
thanks

Posted by ida sutherland | Report as abusive

I have always heard good things about him. He us very intelligent. History will remember Obama as one of the greatest men in the world. He is intelligent, level- headed and so totally a family man. Michelle and girls are lucky that in spite of him being the most powerful man in the world- he still takes time to be a father and Dad. One picture we treasure is the one where he encourages the new pup to run alongside him- that shows a man who is down to earth and very aware of his own foibles.

Posted by purist | Report as abusive

David, I couldn’t help thinking about the millions of babies born to white owners being considered…Negro. Has that law (informal or not) changed over the last twelve months?

Posted by GEDRecipent | Report as abusive

WHO CARES!

I don’t! And we shouldn’t!
Its a done deal, push race and color to the back burner.

We have more important issues to deal with on the front burner.

Ya Think?

Posted by Marky | Report as abusive

Not that I wish to call him a liar, I must inform the President that he is “UNAWARE” that he is 50% white and in doing so has denied the very existence of the mother that gave birth to him!
- Posted by DAVID

Really? When you look at President Obama, what do you see? A white man? When you see the pictures of him growing up, with his tall ‘fro, playing basketball, is the first thing that pops into your head ‘Hey, a white guy with a ‘fro, playing basketball’? I don’t think so. He is seen as black, lived his life as a black man, and is now a proud black man who is our President. Yes, he was raised by a white mother and grandmother but he was a black man raised by a white mother and grandmother. Your comment is beyond asinine, just plain STUPID!!

Posted by Travis | Report as abusive

i love obama hes the best nd hes a very smart guy

Posted by christina | Report as abusive

20 years ago, he could be funny. Now he is just pathetic. Old and tired.

Posted by Anna Langella | Report as abusive

Letterman has not been funny for years. I don’t think The Joker helped either.

Posted by Batman | Report as abusive

our country is a mess
he needs to stop making speeches and get to work

Posted by sm | Report as abusive

Historically, the United States used a colloquial term, the one-drop rule, to designate a black person as any person with any known African ancestry.[48] Outside of the US, some other countries have adopted the practice, but the definition of who is black and the extent to which the one drop “rule” applies varies from country to country.
The one drop rule may have originated as a means of increasing the number of black slaves[49] and been maintained as an attempt to keep the white race pure.[50] One of the results of the one drop rule was uniting the African American community and preserving an African identity.[48] Some of the most prominent civil rights activists were multiracial, and advocated equality for all.
President Barack Obama self-identifies as black and African American interchangeably.[51] According to a Williams Identity Survey conducted by Zogby International interactive poll conducted November 1–2, 2006, among those who voted, 55 percent of whites voters and 61 percent of Hispanics voters classified him as biracial instead of black after being told that his mother is white, and 66% of Black voters classified Obama as black.[52] Another poll conducted by the same group returned results that forty-two percent of African-Americans voters described Tiger Woods as black, as did 7% of white voters.[53]

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

David,
Really? When you look at President Obama, what do you see? A white man? When you see the pictures of him growing up, with his tall ‘fro, playing basketball, is the first thing that pops into your head ‘Hey, a white guy with a ‘fro, playing basketball’? I don’t think so. He is seen as black, lived his life as a black man, and is now a proud black man who is our President. Yes, he was raised by a white mother and grandmother but he was a black man raised by a white mother and grandmother. Your comment is beyond asinine, just plain STUPID!!

Posted by Travis | Report as abusive

Why do you allways give half truths, Mr. President? Yuo are half black and half white. The half white raised you not your father. You made sure that you used your grandmother and grandfather in the election but now it is like you have disowned them. Your grandmother must be rolling over in her grave. Why are you ashamed of your white heratige? You are nothing but an opertunist and right now being all black gives you more freedom to spread your message. Shame on you.

Posted by Gary G | Report as abusive

WHO CARES!

I don’t! And we shouldn’t!
Its a done deal, push race and color to the back burner.

We have more important issues to deal with on the front burner.

Ya Think?

Denounce the racist fringe at the teabagging parties and we will move on. And anyway you are why the presidents great plans aren’t moving ahead anyway. That’s hypcoritical of you. Ya think? Not much.

Posted by Snarky | Report as abusive

Some day, the color of a person’s skin with be as inconsequential, and ignored, as the color of a person’s eyes.

Posted by DennisMyers | Report as abusive

I would be nice if he was arrested and tried for espionage since it is exactly what he is doing. that would be a start..then arrest all who are involved in this illegal conspiracy as well.The punishment for espionage during war is death. we should enforce our existing laws for a change…

Posted by onepatriotmany | Report as abusive

Gary G, I have some questions for you.

If Obama had lived in the South until 1865, would he have been at risk of being enslaved like a Black man, or would he have been guaranteed his freedom and right to vote like a White man?

If Obama had lived in Segregation until 1965, would he have been forced to the Black side as a Black man or free to go where he wished like a White man?

If Obama was walking the streets of Ferguson in this day and age, would he be profiled with calls of a Black suspect like other Black men, or profiled for calls of a White suspect like White men?

Posted by dankster312 | Report as abusive

It is truly hilarious to witness how so many Obama haters clamor to lay claim to his “half-whiteness,” to the point of being totally outraged if he calls himself black, while at the same time they hate him specifically because they themselves think he’s black. Intellect never was the strong suit of the bigot.

Posted by TrippinMcZoink | Report as abusive

Too bad he never used his bi-racial lineage to bridge the gap between white and black by EMBRACING BOTH. The majority of his political power comes from his 50% blackness so that’s where he wrapped his identity around.

What a wasted opportunity that may never happen again.

Posted by DontTrustMedia | Report as abusive