Ta-Nehisi Coates expounds on the exchange you see above:
They spend quite a bit of time, as Brother Jay would say, essaying on "What black is." Loury thinks Obama's blackness is more "complex" than the norm. McWhorter thinks Spike Lee is blacker than Obama.
I don't know how to process any of that--and I kind of hope I never do.
Barack Obama is from Hawaii and was raised by white folks. But I bet he's experienced twice as much direct racism as me. I've never been called a nigger by a white person--it's kind of hard when there are no white people around you. He's got a killer jumper. Based on that Annie Oakley riff, I think he'd kill playing the dozens. He's got the world's tightest caesar. He greets Tim Kaine with a pound and a hug. Who is blacker here? What does any of this mean? How is he more complicated, or any less black, than Frederick Douglass? Than Booker T? Than Bob Marley? Than Jason Kidd? Than Boris Kudjoe?
I really don't get any of this--from the left or the right. I never thought Clarence Thomas wasn't black. I thought he was out of his damn mind. Those two aren't the same thing...