President Barack Obama kisses Oprah Winfrey at the Lincoln Memorial in August during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The following is an excerpt of Charles M. Blow's column from Sunday's New York Times:

"In an interview with the BBC this week, Oprah Winfrey said of President Obama: 'There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American.'

With that remark, Winfrey touched on an issue that many Americans have wrestled with: To what extent does this president’s race animate those loyal to him and those opposed? Is race a primary motivator or a subordinate, more elusive one, tainting motivations but not driving them?

To some degree, the answers lie with the questioners. There are different perceptions of racial realities. What some see as slights, others see as innocent opposition. But there are some objective truths here. Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real. But these realities can operate without articulation and beneath awareness. For those reasons, some can see racism where it is absent, and others can willfully ignore any possibility that it could ever be present."

Read more at the New York Times.