Stephen Colbert interviewed Georgetown professor and MSNBC correspondent Michael Eric Dyson about his argument, in his new book The Black Presidency, that “there is opposition to Barack Obama often that has a racist tinge to it,” as Colbert summarized. “Opposition to Barack Obama doesn’t mean you’re a racist, though — you’ll agree to that?” Colbert asked, and Dyson did. You can disagree with Obama and not be racist, he said, but “despite the ideological and political differences, there is an overlay of kind of racist reaction” to the first black president.
Dyson listed some instances where Obama was publicly disrespected, but Colbert seemed skeptical. “So rudeness equals racism in this equation?” he asked. “Because that’s all rude, but you can’t prove it’s racist.” Dyson listed some other indignities that he saw as unique to Obama, including the “birther” movement. “But now Donald Trump has moved on to accusing a white person of not being from America,” Colbert said, in a nod to Sen. Ted Cruz. “Isn’t that racial progress?” Dyson laughed and agreed, adding, “but real racial progress would be if a black man could say, ‘If I stood in the middle of a street and shot somebody, I would still get votes.’ That would be racial progress.” Dyson and Colbert went on to discuss race in relation to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.