Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why Can't Barack Be Black?

My question is simple.

Why do so man people - mostly whites, but some blacks - have such a problem with the idea of Barack Obama being black?

I hear so much, "He's half white," "His ancestors weren't slaves," "Why do we talk about him as a black man, not as a white man?" Before he called him an Arab, Rush Limbaugh called Obama (and Halley Berry) "Halfrican" in reference to their mixed heritage.

Why is it that, in a country where it is a fact of life that many, if not most, African Americans have some non-African ancestry, so many are obsessed with Obama's non-Africanness? Why are people so uncomfortable with him being black?

I have my on hypothesis in answer to this question, but I'm interrested in what others think. Leave your answers by commenting on this post, and then I'll be back with a follow-up post.


The Green Arrow said...

well eventhough you want my opinion and i dont feel like giving one i will do it anyway.(im listening to our god is an awesome god by the way). I dont have any problem with obama being HALF black but my problem is why cant we as americans cant just make him one manand that be all why dont we say that McCain is an Irish/German man running for president??? HUH?? the reason is because we dont take the time to understand how much racism is in the world today and how it really does affect the way people think...so obama is not black and neither am I he's AMERICAN and SO AM I..........!

Kevin Lockett said...

I agree, if we want to be technical, you're not black, and neither am I, because race is a socially constructed concept. It was invented over the past 500 years, it's made up.

However, the fact that it is made up, and that it was created to make racist attitudes possible means that we don't get to be "half black." Race isn't about reality. It's not about how we self identify, or what are lineage is. It's about creating a make-believe hierarchy of humankind.

Even though this concept is made up, it has had a very real impact over the last several centuries, and it still impacts us today. Personally, I feel that it is through this light that we should evaluate race. If we look at it this way, Obama's parent's don't matter because in this one-drop-of-black-and-you're-unpure society, he's not half black, mixed, biracial, or any other PC word. He's black.

My question it, considering that most African Americans share European ancestry (and many also share Native American ancestry) why do you find it so important to label Obama as a half black man, and why are you so opposed to him being called black?