From The Associated Press:
Pride is the center of racial identity, and some white people seem insulted by a perception that Obama is rejecting his white mother (even though her family was a centerpiece of his campaign image-making) or baffled by the notion that someone would choose to be black instead of half-white.
“He can’t be African-American. With race, white claims 50 percent of him and black 50 percent of him. Half a loaf is better than no loaf at all,” Ron Wilson of Plantation, Fla., wrote in a letter to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
Attempts to whiten Obama leave a bitter taste for many African-Americans, who feel that at their moment of triumph, the rules are being changed to steal what once was deemed worthless _ blackness itself.
“For some people it’s honestly confusion,” said Favor, the Dartmouth professor. “For others it’s a ploy to sort of reclaim the presidency for whiteness, as though Obama’s blackness is somehow mitigated by being biracial.”
Then there are the questions remaining from Obama’s entry into national politics, when some blacks were leery of this Hawaiian-born newcomer who did not share their history.
Linda Bob, a black schoolteacher from Eustis, Fla., said that calling Obama black when he was raised in a white family and none of his ancestors experienced slavery could cause some to ignore or forget the history of racial injustice.
“It just seems unfair to totally label him African-American without acknowledging that he was born to a white mother,” she said. “It makes you feel like he doesn’t have a class, a group.”
1) People should be allowed to DEFINE THEMSELVES. Barack Obama is an American. He is biracial, but traditionally our country has viewed anyone with African heritage or appearance is a black person. A lot of this happy talk is talk. People are still bombarded with ethnic politics where biracial people are asked to “pick a side.” More are fighting against it, but the reality is still there.
2) Being black does not mean you don’t have white blood or that you’re denying your white background, especially since the vast majority of black Americans are “mixed” to some degree.
3) Obama has already said he views himself as a black person, as an African American. So, seriously, why is this even being debated? Obama already had this internal debate and made the decision years ago. He’s a black person of mixed heritage like … gasp … nearly every black person in America. He simply has more immediate ties to Africa.
4) Did I mention that biracial and multi-ethnic people should be able to define themselves and that race is an illusion created to separate people? Because it is.
5) You can’t have it both ways and you can’t change the rules in the middle of the game. Individuals who would never see Obama as anything but black are lying to themselves (and others) when they say things like, he could say he was white if he wanted to. Or, he’s more white than black. Ahem … how do you even measure the quantities of white ethnicity in a person? And this is America. Are we just going to pretend like the past 250 years didn’t happen? Because Obama isn’t and neither is any other person with black heritage that I know. Even if they prefer other labels, like mixed or biracial or multi-ethnic, they know the politics of ethnicity in America. It is what it is. Don’t play naive and pretend like it could be something else.
This is what it is.