The Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets faced off on Jan. 23, a game where former President Bill Clinton was on hand to take in the NBA action. LeBron James turned heads following the game when he took photos with Clinton and posted one on Instagram. James also drew some criticism after calling him "the first black president."
View this post on Instagram
"19 '42.' As Toni Morrison said 'The first black president.' We appreciate you still to this day! Big Bill The [goat emoji]" James wrote in the caption of the photo. The Lakers star was happy about this photo opportunity, but his fans had decidedly opposing opinions.
"Didn't his wife say young black men were super predators?" one person asked in the Instagram comments. Several others responded by saying that Clinton was responsible for a three-strike rule that sent even more young African American men to prison.
While the majority of comments on Instagram focused on policies of the Clinton Administration, there were others that wanted to make a different point. In their opinion, calling Clinton the "first black president" was just very disrespectful to President Barack Obama.
"Don't give him that prestigious title LeBron. 'Come on man!' That is so disrespectful to black ppl & the true first black president," another user added to the conversation.
The comment from Toni Morrison that James referenced was made in 1998. She lamented the way that Clinton was being treated during the Whitewater scandal, as well as the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
"Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime," Morrison said at the time, per NBC News. "After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."
These comments made back in 1998 drew praise from some, but Morrison was also criticized. The welfare reform bill and 1994 crime bill were both believed to harm African American families, and there were many that felt Morrison shouldn't be praising the man responsible. The blowback actually resulted in her clarifying the previous statement 10 years later.0comments
"I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him," Morrison said in 2008. "I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race."
Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images