We call him that -- he calls himself that -- because we use dated language and logic. After more than 300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part-black is all black. Fifty percent equals a hundred. There's no in-between.
That was my reaction when I read these words on the front page of this newspaper the day after the election: "Obama Makes History: U.S. Decisively Elects First Black President."
The phrase was repeated in much the same form by one media organization after another. It's as if we have one foot in the future and another still mired in the Old South. We are racially sophisticated enough to elect a non-white president, and we are so racially backward that we insist on calling him black. Progress has outpaced vocabulary.
To me, as to increasing numbers of mixed-race people, Barack Obama is not our first black president. He is our first biracial, bicultural president. He is more than the personification of African American achievement. He is a bridge between races, a living symbol of tolerance, a signal that strict racial categories must go.
Of course there is much to celebrate in seeing Obama's victory as a victory for African Americans. The long, arduous battles that were fought and won in the name of civil rights redeemed our Constitution and brought a new sense of possibility to all minorities in this country. We Hispanic Americans, very likely the most mixed-race people in the world, credit our gains to the great African American pioneers of yesterday: Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr.
You can read the rest of this tripe at the link above.
Let me break it down for you.
I SO am not gonna listen to a Latino tell me who IS and ISNT Black.
He was Black during the Rev. Wright brouhaha, wasn't he?
Watching Spanish speaking television in this country, no one would believe that the overwhelming majority of those brought over in the hulls of those slave ships did NOT stop in North America. Look at Spanish speaking tv - nary a Black to be found.
Hispanics are mixed race?
WTF do you think Black folk are?
Rosa Parks - yella
DuBois - yella
King - medium
Don't none of these folks look like present day West Africans.
Look at West Africans.
Now, look at the range of colors amongst the Black community here in America.
How the hell did we go from THAT to what we are NOW, without mixing with a whole lotta folks. Having White ancestors is nothing new for Black folk.
Barack Obama doesn't even look 'bi-racial'.
4 years ago, before his speech, take Obama and Harold Ford, Jr's pictures to the local Black barbershop anywhere in America.
Ask them to tell you who the bi-racial person was.
Would they choose Obama?
Or the green-eyed, wavy-haired Ford, Jr.?
My money's on Ford, Jr., born to 2 Black parents.
Like I said, this having White ancestors didn't begin with Barack Obama....though a great segment of White America just likes to pretend that it did.
When White folks claim bi-racial Pookey that just robbed the liquor store and shot 3 people, then I'll know it's not just about trying to divorce Obama from the Black community.
That was a great deal of the animus behind the attacks on Michelle, IMO.
She was BLACK.
Her ancestors were slaves in the bottom of those ships in chains BLACK.
All the pain, hideousy, and contradictions to the great myth that is America BLACK.
I've got relatives of the entire Black Community spectrum, and we're all BLACK.
This was left in the comments section over at Ta-Nehisi Coates:
For some people the choice of Barack and other bi-racial folks is perplexing in this day and age. Why be black if you don't have to be? Oh sure maybe a generation ago you didn't have a choice, but now you do so why not? Why not complete the transition to being post-racial (not black)? Why marry black and more black babies? This woman feels like Barack made himself "blacker" voluntarily and she doesn't understand why on earth he would do such a thing. Maybe someone should tell her it's actually kind of great.
Ding ding ding
We have a winner.
It totally perplexes some folks. You can see it.
' Why does he call himself BLACK?'
I still say that Michelle has a great deal to do with it. Why would he CHOOSE to marry Michelle?
I've written extensively about Michelle at JJP, and how I used to didn't understand why Toots and Gramps never got their ' due' when it came to Barack - they raised him for a chunk of his life, and I thought it was obvious:
President of the Harvard Law Review
that they more than deserved their ' props'.
Then, it came to me.
Michelle erased all that away, and ' negated it'. For, if Gramps and Toots had ' raised Barack right'...
then what's he doing married to Michelle?
And you all know, I then stepped away from that, because I didn't even want to try and understand folks who had that line of thinking.
Sorry, you're just going to have to deal with the full complexity of Black humanity.