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Interesting opinion pieces on Obama and race

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
The first, He's Not Black, is written by a Latina with a multiracial background, the second, I'm Not Post-Racial, by a black woman whose husband is Asian-black.

Both raise some interesting questions about how we define "race".
post #2 of 8
Thanks for posting those!

Very interesting, and I'd say I tend to agree with them. The people I've heard say they're 'colorblind' or the same concept as 'post-racial' are always white and never really spend all that much time around anyone who isn't. There is a difference between respecting other people as they are and not judging them based on skin color/ ethnicity/ culture on the one hand and pretending we're all exactly the same on the other.

I also agree with that first one-- Obama is half white American and half Kenyan. It's always interesting to hear people refer to him by race. Is he African-American, and if so, what do we mean by that? Usually, it's a term applied to the descendants of slaves. The Somali immigrants in Columbus and the Ethiopian immigrants here never refer to themselves as 'African-American'. If we apply the term the way we do other similar labels (Asian-American, etc) then people like Dave Matthews are African-American by virtue of being born in Africa and emigrating. Is he black? Are they actually synonymous? I don't think they are, because if you look at Obama's personal history he has clearly identified with 'black culture' whatever I mean by that (looking at things like his choice of church). But does he identify with white culture equally as much? I guess you'd have to ask him, it's hard to separate what is white culture and what are just part of the general mainstream culture. Regardless, there's no question he has been treated by strangers and the media as 'black' in America and all that comes with it. Are things like that enough to garner the label? Judging by voting turnout, local conversations, and the Obama clothing I see kids who aren't old enough to vote wearing, a lot of urban black people think he is. Then again, a good proportion of that might have nothing to do with perceived race.

Not to wax academic

More importantly, does it matter? I'm lucky enough to live in one of the least segregated neighborhoods I've ever seen, and to me at least it's obvious that the future America is not going to be any kind of homogenous.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
More importantly, does it matter? I'm lucky enough to live in one of the least segregated neighborhoods I've ever seen, and to me at least it's obvious that the future America is not going to be any kind of homogenous.
It's not just America that's trending that way. Western Europe is becoming more and more multi-faceted, too. There's the colonial past, but also a lot of immigration/globalization.
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
Very interesting, and I'd say I tend to agree with them. The people I've heard say they're 'colorblind' or the same concept as 'post-racial' are always white and never really spend all that much time around anyone who isn't. There is a difference between respecting other people as they are and not judging them based on skin color/ ethnicity/ culture on the one hand and pretending we're all exactly the same on the other.
I haven't read the articles yet, but I just want to chime in and say that to me being "color blind" doesn't mean not seeing differences but in not caring about the differences.

Edited to add: by that I mean, take everyone on an individual basis and not lumped together and defined by a color, nationality, religion, or whatever.
post #5 of 8
Race is important, I think it can be hard for people to understand how important.

I am very mixed-race, enough that usually no-one I meet assumes I am from any particular country. I am sure I react differently to people from different races, but I like to think I treat everyone equally.

I thought Obama self-identified as black/African American?
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misty8723 View Post
I haven't read the articles yet, but I just want to chime in and say that to me being "color blind" doesn't mean not seeing differences but in not caring about the differences.

Edited to add: by that I mean, take everyone on an individual basis and not lumped together and defined by a color, nationality, religion, or whatever.
If you read the articles, you'll see that not caring about the differences is not what I was talking about. Maybe I choose my words poorly. 'Post-racial' is what the article says, and uses it the way I defined what I meant by 'colorblind:' "pretending we're all exactly the same".
post #7 of 8
Excellent articles, Tricia. Thank you. While I can't subscribe to a label of "post-racial", I think it might be a useful "way station" in our developing understanding of where race fits, i.e. that that swing of the pendulum toward saying that race is "unimportant" may simply be a way of getting to an understanding that race is not unimportant, but is also not the only defining thing about an individual.
post #8 of 8
As far as the issue of whether or not he can technically be called "black", I don't think it is really important what his exact racial makeup is. What is going to be important to a lot of people is that he and his family *look* black. People are going to respond to him as if he is black.
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