Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black or Bi-Racial: What Do You Think?

A CNN reporter, Jason Carroll, posed a question to CNN online readers asking about Sen. Barack Obama’s racial identity. He says he received heated responses regarding whether or not Obama is Black or bi-racial.

Some Blacks and bi-racial people think that Obama is not Black. They say he is bi-racial, which is different. Obama refers to himself as Black because he says that’s what people see, when they look at him. It’s the same comment made by actress Halle Berry.

Anyway, it’s a shame that people are not focusing on Obama’s policies and ideas for the country because they are fixated on continuous discussions about his race and color. But, when we think of this country’s history, race and color are always going to be issues. Blacks even deal with these issues as a collective group.

It’s always been about field Negro vs. house Negro, light skin vs. dark skin, “good hair” vs. “nappy hair,” broad nose vs. straight nose, light eyes vs. brown eyes, and any number of other superficial characteristics that can be used to divide our people up and to make some Blacks feel superior to other Blacks based on these shallow standards of identifying beauty, intelligence, acceptability, etc.

Even in the workplace, racial identity, race, and color are sometimes issues. I’ve worked in offices where Blacks with lighter complexions talked honestly about being treated better by White staff than Blacks with darker skin. I’m sure others have worked in places where the reverse may have been true. So, it’s really no surprise that the discussion of whether Obama is Black enough, literally, has come up.

Let’s get a dialogue going. So, the questions to you are:

Do you think Sen. Obama is Black or bi-racial?

How do you think Whites view Obama (Black vs. bi-racial)?

Does it matter to you/are you interested in labels (for historical sense, etc.)?

Is this a productive political conversation? If so, why?

Are you offended by questions about racial identity (bi-racial vs. Black)?

I’d like to hear your answers as well as about your experiences with racial identity and color in your personal and/or professional life

This is The Black Factor. This is the perfect place to talk about this issue, which is not going anywhere. More and more people are mixed and will be of mixed races in the future. So, let’s discuss it.

Post a comment and I’ll include some of the responses in an upcoming post to continue the discussion!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Obama is African. He is a true AFRICAN American. As such, to me he is not black. Africans are not black. He says he is black because that is what others see. The question should be, who do you know yourself to be? Who are you? Thank you.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Dreadlocs7 said...

The only person that can define Barack Obama is Barack Obama. With that said, I say you are what you say you are, as long as it makes sense. If Senator Obama said he's an elephant, folks would laugh because that definition makes absolutely no sense. But he defines himself as Black. I'm sure he's based this on far more than what people see when they look at him; he's an extremely intelligent Brother who understands what it feels like to be Black in America.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Thomas Jackson said...

Do you think Sen. Obama is Black or bi-racial?

"I see him as being as much White as he is Black, so I prefer to think of him as white. Why would I say that? Well, I don't think we get to choose what our race is anymore than someone else can choose it for us. Barack Hussein Obama is in reality - Biracial. I call him white to make a point. BHO has made a decision for political gain to call himself Black. When I look at him I don't see a black man, I don't see white man - I see a man. He should embrace his white American heritage equally as much as his black American heritage. The lack of that substance tells me a great deal about the political candidate."

How do you think Whites view Obama (Black vs. bi-racial)?

"My same answer applies above."

Does it matter to you/are you interested in labels (for historical sense, etc.)?

"That's a very important question, possibly the most important of the race for the white house. BHO will not be the first black president if elected. People need to understand that and get away from thinking so. He will be the first biracial president."

Is this a productive political conversation? If so, why?

"Yes, yes, yes. And here is why. Some day we will in fact have an all black, 100% African American candidate run for president. We should not deny that man or woman their rightful place in history as the first Black nominee, or President."

Are you offended by questions about racial identity (bi-racial vs. Black)?

"No I'm not personally offended, but have a very close friend who's family is multi-racial and he takes great exception to being called white. He looks white without question but fully believes that no one should assume any one's race or color. I have taken on that same thought process through knowing him.

My friend, lets call him John Doe was deposed for a hearing before the EEOC. When counsel for the aggrieved went thru the standard opening questions on identifying the individual being deposed she said, "and I'll put you down as white Caucasian." When he corrected her that he was not white Caucasian she asked what he was. When he answered that by legal definition he was "other," she ended the deposition. If she couldn't label him "white" for the purpose of this hearing, he didn't serve her purpose even though he had more material information than others who did appear before the judge."

7:46 AM  
Blogger Carl Jazz said...

Despite the one-drop of black blood rule being held illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, Sen. Obama wants to hold to that racist rule by claiming he is black. Is it for his own comfortability and opportunistic goal?

This naive thinking underlies the attack often faced by multicultural people that they are trying to deny or are ashamed of who they are. Rather than see it in that narrow way, Sen. Obama should see it as that he refuses to deny the other part of change that is equally important to his being multicultural.

By identifying himself to one race it is a dishonor to the dream Dr. Martin Luther King wished for 45 years ago when he said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation that will not judge them by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Being multicultural should be a proud statement and quality that exemplifies and represents what the United States is known for; a nation that embraces all shades, colors, and cultures of people.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I view Barack Obama as a Man who is willing to make a CHANGE in society not because of his heritage, but because he has a willingness to fight for people of all color. He define his self as black because society has define a man race based on color. What GOD looks down on us he sees his children, not their color. We as a society (both black and white) must define ourselves as Americans.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Give me Liberty, or give me Death! said...

Prior to 1967 Barrack Obama would be considered "BLACK" according to the "One Drop Rule". It would be silly for Barrack to deny his Kenyan heritage and Kenyan father from who he gets his name. It would also be silly if Barrack Obama denied his white heritage, white mother, and white grandparents who raised him. In my opinion RACE does not exist, it is merely a social construct based on human phenotypes. Obama is not "black", "white", or "bi-racial". Barrack Obama is American. Think about this...if the "One Drop Rule" was opposite Obama would be "white". Race is all in your imagination...only in America these stupid racial categories exist in such a binary manner. Although these barriers are breaking down at a very fast and progressive pace.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change - This is the time to start dialogue on this issue. Its time to change how we label someone's racial makeup. American society decides who get's labeled what and with that said the America can dicide to create another race to label as Human and drop the color issue. As you may be aware of there are many more races and colors are joining the American population so it will become more and more difficult to peg them in a hole. Plese just grow up!

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jim Crow era has come and gone. How can we say that we have evolved enough to elect a minority president, but we have not evolved enough to identify him appropriatlety??

This is an outrage!The mulatto movement has fought hard to change the way America's racist views are utilized in this election.

I understand the campaign idea of trying not to upset the African Americans, so that you can obtain the vote but what about being TRUE to yourself.

To say he is "black" is INACCURATE! He was raised white, by his White mother and that is ALL that he has ever known.

All you see is the Africans in Kenya dancing?? What about his relatives in Kansas or Hawaii?

His grandmother is probrally turning over in her grave!

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a mother of a bi-racial child I think Obama should identify with both races, what message does this send to the millions of bi-racial children in the USA!!!!

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's black? as in African American? This discussion on just how black is black enough to be something else and most likely something worse and less intelligent and less attractive is so stupid! African Americans are bi-racial thats how we became African Americans!!!! Those of us born in the U.S. did not get to be shades of brown because of some "black" gene. We are a product of our white and euro heritage! Obama looks like my brother and my son because--oh my God--they all happen to be African Americans!

10:16 AM  
Blogger Dr. Sparky said...

Soren Kierkegaard said "Once you label me, you negate me". Obama is whatever he chooses to identify with. My only wish is that he would help put aside the race divisions in this country and proclaim that he is first and foremost an AMERICAN!

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that referring to black people as "African American" is a stretch - with the exception of some, like Barack Obama. He is a TRUE African American. His father is ACTUALLY African (not a descendant) & his mother is an American.

11:28 PM  
Blogger myperspective08 said...

I am a biracial girl myself (and i sometimes will self identify as black when it can benefit me)here are my answers to those questions.

-Do you think Sen. Obama is Black or bi-racial?

I think Obama can be both. He is whatever he self identifies as. When you are biracial you can self identify as whatever. Its not the same as self hating, as you do not deny your heritage. You just self identify with what you relate to (or what can benefit you).

How do you think Whites view Obama (Black vs. bi-racial)?

Whites say he is biracial because they do not like the idea of a black president. They see him and treat him as a black person, but they say he is a biracial person because they want to throw PC in the faces of democrats, and to take credit for his successes also.

Does it matter to you/are you interested in labels (for historical sense, etc.)?

I don't think people should be making a dilemma of his race. He is whatever he is, and people need to get over it. People don't care for biracials they just want to use them for their own stupid arguments. Most do not understand biracials at all.

Is this a productive political conversation? If so, why?

It really shouldn't be political at all. Race issues are political..but questioning if Obama is biracial or black when is both is stupid.

Are you offended by questions about racial identity (bi-racial vs. Black)?

I am offended when people pretend to know things about biracials when they don't. I get offended when people stereotype. I get offended when people use us to further their stupid arguments. I get angry when blacks and whites create Catch 22 situations for us...and I hate it when people don't try to understand self identity and how it is different from self hatred.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous yes Africans ARE BLACK

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had not known his mother was white I may have considered him Africa American. But because of knowing he has a white mother I consider him bi-racial. But when you get down to it.. aren't most of us biracial or this only a term we use for those of African and European decent? I hope to God he wasn't elected because of his ethnicity. That would be sad for our country and desperate. I wish he would claim himself as biracial as I do take offense that he claims to be only one ethnic side. I find that insulting. Thats like me saying Im only native american and forgetting my German heritage. Its an insult to my ancestors. I think Obama used his ethnicity as a way of getting the vote...he is smart and he played the right card to get the job... Do I respect that??? probably not> Its a little underhanded. Had he claimed he was biracial he may have actually got more votes from the other side.

7:46 AM  

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