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Dr. Boyce Watkins, a prominent professor at Syracuse University, has taken issue with the comments made by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. In his comments, Reid mentions that Obama is a candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

The comments are cited in a forth-coming book by Journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Dr. Watkins argues that Reid’s comments are quite compelling.

“The idea that he would congratulate Obama for being less Black sends a clear signal that he and other Americans would support Obama IN SPITE of his blackness, which says that the whiter you are, the better you are. That is White Supremacy 101,” says Watkins.

Dr. Watkins goes further to argue that Reid himself may not be a racist, but that he is a reflector of the fact that America has a long way to go when it comes to race.

“But the truth is that for the past 400 years, light-skinned Blacks have been preferable to darker skinned African Americans in almost every walk of life, from beauty to employment to politics. In that regard, Reid was simply pointing out the obvious and reminding us that we are a long way away from any kind of ‘post-racial America.’”

Dr. Watkins argues that given that these comments were released near the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s time for America to hold a national conversation on race.