Friday, August 29, 2008

What's Black?

WikiAnswers says, 'Barack Obama is a multiracial American. His father was an economics student from Nairobi, his mother a white American. They divorced when Obama was young, and his father returned to Kenya. Obama was raised by his mother until about age 10, when his maternal grandmother in Honolulu took him in.'

OK listen. I'll try and do this in as PC a way as possible but might slip up. It won't be intentional. Let's leap in. Why, when he is of mixed race, is Barack Obama described as black?

Consider this. He is campaigning in the deep (and occasionally racist) south. Would he say, 'I am proud to stand here before you ready to be the next in a long line of great, white Presidents of the USA.' I can't imagine that. The evidence before the eyes of those who believe anyone with a bit of black in their genes is competely black, would be overwhelming. This man looks black (they would say).

So when Obama allows commentators to say that he will be America's first black President (24 having smoothed the way for him, well done President Palmer) is he actually playing the race card he seems to so despise?

Now get me right here. I am an Obama fan and care not for ethnicity in making that decision. I think he will make a great president and hope he makes it. Galatians 3:28 is the guiding light to that which I already felt I knew by common sense.

The melting pot that is my much-invaded island probably means I contain a fair chunk of Latin, Norse and Germanic genetic material. Further back? Who can know? Friends. We're all mixed race aren't we?


fotofill said...

One assumes that calling yourself “black” you are referring yourself to a cultural identity rather than a race. You would have the Germanic or Nordic race rather than the “black” race. Being “black” is a referral to their past culture.

After all if one half of your parentage were Jewish you would most likely refer yourself as being from Jewish decent.

Alastair Cutting said...

My understanding of NZ Maori culture means that knowing of your roots, and being able to relate you 'whakapapa' (family's historic line) is very important.

This has led now to the fact that you are Maori if you have Maori blood in you. Even if it is only 1/128th apparently counts.

Diane said...

well, I have been thinking as well of all of those children of black slaves and white fathers (the slave owners) who were lighter skinned than their sisters and brothers and yet still called "black." Obama isn't any less black than they are. In their cases, though, I'm sure their fathers never acknowledged them.

Mike Peatman said...

It's a good question, Steve.

The Nazis regarded people with 3 Jewish grandparents as Jews; 2 grandparents it depended on certain conditions - you could be a Jew or a Mischling (1st degree), and one grandparent you were a Mischling (2nd degree).

Several 1st degree Mischlings became senior in the military, and some acquired "German Blood Certificates". Mischlings did not practise the Jewish faith, of course.

So for the most fanatically racist and anti-semitic regime in modern history, you could say that half-Jewish was not necessarily Jewish. Interesting.

Matt Wilson said...

I myself never heard my father (a Malawian born and bread) refer to himself as Black.

Although I think of myself as black I think for many its a way of identifying with both a strong cultural identity in response to perceived oppression. I also Racially consider myself African( Malawian to be more specific) as more so although as well as English and Irish. However I'm also (proud is not quiet the right word) but take the responsibility and privilege of being British by nationality. I love my country as well as my nationality, ethnicity and cultural identity.

I don't think Black is racial indicator more a cultural visual one, and probably as suspect as nigger. One is Black only as much as being a minority to those who are considered white. The shame is that how much of an issue that Obama's (who probably won't be the first black president) colour still is and shows how far we still have to go before MLK's dream is realised.