Lee Daniels, the director of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” believes America has become more racist since President Barack Obama – the nation’s first black commander-in-chief – took office in 2009.
“I think that people are angry that he’s president,” Daniels told Piers Morgan on CNN this week. “And I think that they are showing their true colors.”
Morgan asked Daniels if the country has become more racist since Obama was elected.
“Sadly, I think so,” Daniels said.
Daniels’ film inspired by the real-life account of Eugene Allen, a longtime White House butler, opened No. 1 at the box office last weekend, grossing nearly $25 million. Forest Whitaker stars as the title character leading the ensemble cast including Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, James Marsden, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz.
The film not only tells the story about Allen’s life in the White House, but it also spans several decades that includes the Civil Rights Movement, riots in urban cities, the emergence of The Black Panther Party, and Allen’s interaction with Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Regan, and President Barack Obama.
In fact, Daniels told The Grio that the only person he was unable to cast in was was President Obama.
“I was too afraid to ask him,” Daniels said. “I think that he was in the middle of something called the election. It would have been weird if I had somebody playing Obama. I couldn’t have anybody playing Obama but Obama.”
Daniels’ observation about Obama, race, and present-day America comes one week after many African Americans were angered last week by a rodeo clown in Missouri who wore an Obama mask and mocked the president. An announcer taunted the clown, saying: “We’re gonna smoke Obama … Obama, they’re coming for you this time.” He also called the masked Obama a “big goober.”
The incident, which has been condemned by Democrats and Republicans, resulted in a lifetime ban from the fair for rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling.
But Daniels’ broader observation about America’s increased racism since Obama was elected is cause for concern. People who didn’t like Obama to begin with have become more outspoken and filled with hate, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in America.