Ben Carson says Obama was 'raised white,' sparking Twitter furor

  • © Steve Marcus / Reuters

By Anjali Athavaley and Gina Cherelus

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's comments that President Barack Obama was "raised white" prompted backlash on social media on Tuesday, with many users criticizing the neurosurgeon for stereotyping the experience of African-Americans.

Carson, who is black and grew up poor in Detroit in the 1960s, said of Obama in a podcast posted on Politico's website, "He was, you know, raised white."

He added, "I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn’t grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch."

Several Twitter users expressed anger over the remarks.

Keith Simmons (@Foreignstorian) said "You cannot distill the black experience into something so narrow. Being 'poor' or 'rich' does not grant authenticity."

Warren Holstein ‏(@WarrenHolstein) said, "Ben Carson says Obama was "raised white" and doesn't understand black Americans. That fails to explain why no one understands Ben Carson."

Shaun King (@ShaunKing), civil rights activist and New York Daily News writer, said, "Please @RealBenCarson. Step away from ALL microphones...forever. Saying Obama "grew up white" is foolishness."

The comments also prompted some to contemplate Obama's upbringing.

Brahma Chellaney ‏(@Chellaney) said, "I've often wondered why Obama is regarded as black, not mixed race, despite a white mother and a white upbringing."

Carson did not back away from his comments in an interview with CNN on Tuesday afternoon.

"Anybody who is sensible knows that the way that he was brought up is very different from the way most black people in this country are brought up," he said, adding, "I don’t think anyone would deny that someone who was raised in Hawaii by his white grandparents and then spent formative years in Indonesia with his white mother does not have the typical black experience."

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail” (

(Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Chris Reese)

This article was funded in part by SAP. It was independently created by the Reuters editorial staff. SAP had no editorial involvement in its creation or production.

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