Monday, March 29, 2010

Republish: Barack Obama is NOT African-American

Blogger's Note:  I have chosen to republish this because I think there have been some very interesting recent comments made to it that my readers should have a chance to read and its been a year+ since its original publish date of 1/20/09.   And, I'm a spelling freak and found a spelling error that I just cannot let go...

Please be sure to read the comments...

I'm very frustrated by the expression of Obama as the first 'African-American' or the first 'black' man in the White House and all the hype around it.  I know I am likely to get slammed all over the blogosphere for saying it, but I need to.  It needs to be said.

What is this country coming to?  We profess to be so evolved now that Dr. King's dream has finally come to fruition.  My understanding of Dr. King's dream was that the black man in America would finally be recognized as an equal to the white man (in its most simplistic form).  It would be a day when America would not judge or define a man (blogger's note: I use the term 'man' as a gender neutral term in this post) by the color of his skin.  Isn't that what we are doing right now?  The media is reinforcing the color of Obama's skin at every turn and Obama is riding the coattails of this media hype!  This is not my understanding of what Dr. King wanted - its the exact opposite.

This country is all excited and whipped up into a frenzy about a 'Black' man in the office of the President.  Why aren't we excited about his talents and intelligence and quite frankly his youth?  Dr. King wanted America to judge a man based on the content of his character.  But, we are not doing that!  Why must the media focus on the color of his skin - does it make him more or less talented or a better or worse decision maker?  Isn't it actually demeaning him?  'Wow - a Black man is finally in the White House (as if he was somehow less qualified for the office than his competitors because of the color of his skin).  It's unbelievable to me.  We are REINFORCING the very stereotypes we've worked so hard to eliminate.

Obama is the American-born son of a WHITE woman and a BLACK man.  Doesn't that make him an American?  Not an African-American.  Had he been born in Africa, migrated here and became an American citizen, then he would be African-American.  Just because one parent was black that doesn't make him a black man - he is as black as he is white.  Isn't this the true American?  He is a physical definition of our country in its infancy - known to be a melting pot.  Isn't this EXACTLY what we're trying to achieve?  And Obama is the essence of it.  Why is no one recognizing this?  He has, in my opinion, united the races - he is an American of a new race - one that carries and plays on the strenghts of his ancestors, both black and white, before him.

The media doesn't talk about Tiger Woods as a black man - and what the black man has accomplished in the traditonally white world of golf.  We, in DC, don't talk about our mayor, Adrian Fenty, as an amazing black mayor (which he is, love you Mayor Fenty!).  He's just a terrific mayor.  What about Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice - they are typically remembered for their accomplishments, not that they were black or of African descent.  They are just great Americans.  Why can't they do this for Obama?

I challenge the Ameican media to start talking about Obama without referencing his race.  I doubt that you can do it, but that would be my dream (and apparently Dr. King's too).  A day when the media would judge President Obama based on his decisions and accomplishments, not on the color of his skin.  I wait and pray for that day.  I hope to see it in my lifetime.

I leave you with the words of Dr. King - it is clear and evident to me his meaning.  To the media - read it again.  I think you will agree with me.

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today."

9 comments:

  1. i completely applaud your post, glad someone finally blogged about this.

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  2. President Obama does not look as white as most whites, not does he look as black as most blacks. But one could reasonably pick from those two and conclude that he is black. It might be a long time before people completely ignore someone's physical appearance as it relates to race. I don't think whether he came directly from Africa or not will make a difference in this.

    Of course you are right that if we have true equality and lack of prejudice, the race of any successful person becomes less relevant. The good thing is that Obama's character has come through loud and clear and he has won a victory for intelligence, coolness and classiness.

    Thanks for your blogs. I'm looking forward to reading more of them now...

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  3. Kudos to you for highlighting the bias remarks of the media. President Obama is where he is today because of his accomplishments and because he was the best AMERICAN for the job.

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  4. Before I post I am curious to know how many comments are from African-Americans.

    Not to divide, but I am just curious.

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  5. Hello,
    I will go by the name Victoria. I state that in American we are Americans first and ethnic origins after. If he is "African-American" then what am I? Caucasian-American?
    German-American? Irish-American? American Indian-American? I am proud to be a mix of them all but I am an AMERICAN first. I am also wanting to know how many convicted religious people voted for Mr. Obama? Did they not remember his first agenda? I wanted a bumper sticker that read "Politics not Prejudice". I agree totally with Mr. Martin Luther King- We ALL are created Equally not defined by our RACE!!! Can we have a Irish Month? A German month? Oh, how about a Caucasian month?

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  6. Here's the deal. African-American is used to describe an American of African decent. The term is one that has been deemed "politically correct" even though it technically does not make complete sense. Most black people living in America have never been to Africa. I would also like to add that most black people in America ARE mixed to varying degrees but African-American is still the word used to describe them.
    I myself am an African-American. I have never lived in Africa nor am I of JUST African decent but nevertheless, I do have African blood within me and am considered an African-American by both myself and those around me.
    Obama could very well just call himself an American, but it is his own personal choice to consider himself African-American and being of African decent, he as all the right to do so. Being half Kenyan, Obama is just as "black" as most average African-Americans anyway.
    To say that all people are created equal would be a wonderful concept and even more wonderful if it were true, but the real truth is is that it is not true. One person could be born into a very stable and loving family, while another could be born into one that isn't loving but abusive instead. Some are just simply blessed with more opportunities than others. It isn't fair but it is true.
    African-Americans on average do not always have the same given opportunities as white Americans do. Of course there are individual exceptions to this, but it is the overall average. Also, let us not forget that racism still very much exists. Maybe not to the degree that it once did, but to say that it has been completely eliminated to be ignorant.
    All of this being said, Obama's race DOES play a part in his political position. In a perfect world, it probably wouldn't but this world is far from perfect. Ethnicity does play its part in social situations and Obama being a black man gives hope to progress. It may seem odd to some, but seeing a black man as the president gives hope to young black peoples, and maybe even non black people, that, with the right amount effort and dedication, they are capable of accomplishing all that they set their minds to.

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  7. Dear Anonymous (3/25/10) - Its against my comment policy to publish Anonymous posts - the policy being developed b/c of this post and the outrageous and inflammatory comments of people who were too cowardly to put there name on it. That being said, I get to break my own rules and for your comment, I have chosen to do just that. I wish that you had put a name on your post.

    I think your comment is well written and explanatory from a perspective I can not offer. Thank you for that.

    My frustration when I wrote this post (and after re-reading it I still standby it) is the mainstream media's demeaning of a great man and my underlying frustration, at this point in our country's evolution, that racism still exists based solely on the color of your skin. If you are going to judge me or anyone else, isn't there a better reason than simply the color of my skin?!?! Or in my case, the color of my hair?!?!

    It's saddening, hurtful, and disappointing that for all the advances that black AMERICANS have made to date, its still publicized as a BLACK man's or an AFRICAN AMERICAN man's achievements. Can't it just be a man's achievements? When the MEDIA starts changing the way they talk/write about it, maybe the American public will follow...

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  8. For the sake of the conversation, I created an account. Thank you publishing my first post. I didn't expect it to turn out so long when I was writing it and I am sorry if it seems like I am droning at times.

    I can see your point and I can only really address it as a "work in progress."
    The media can be extremely frustrating, but it must be kept in mind that many of the media's "tactics" in the way that they word things are meant to appeal to the wider audience. People today would prefer to read something that's different and new and interesting as opposed to reading something that would be considered "old news." Slapping an ethnicity (aka, a label) onto someone who's made an achievement sparks an interest in people's minds. Sadly, this would imply that for a black person, or for someone of any minority for that matter, to make a great achievement would mean that it is still considered new and different that a minority can do something great. It is different for white Americans because white people already have a long history of achievements in the United States and it therefore isn't considered by many as much of an accomplishment for a Caucasian American, especially Caucasian males, to do something great. If you take a look back to when Hilary Clinton was running for the democratic party, the primary focus of the media was her gender. This is why I consider us a work in progress and why I will continue to consider us as such until the day comes when Americans can truly be united as one.

    The other side to this argument is that people take pride in having their ethnicity, or whatever it is that makes them unique, announced. It isn't always a media thing or even a racist thing. Some black people take great pride in that they've accomplished something great despite the positions that we were once in during America's earlier history. It is the same as a physically handicapped person being able to dance or a blind person learning how to paint. It is that sense of being able to pull through DESPITE the odds. I can compare Obama becoming president to Halle Berry being the first African American woman to win the Best Leading Actress Academy Award. There is definitely a sense of pride that comes along with it and in the case with Obama, most of that pride simply comes from the fact that he was the FIRST African American to become president. It is a pride that I am sure Hilary Clinton would have had had she became the FIRST female president.

    The media definitely has tendency to judge people unfairly but realize that this issue is just as much a PEOPLE issue as it is a media one. Humans are judgmental creatures. I myself have been judged for being black, for being a Christian, for being bisexual, and even for being an artist. All of which are truths about myself that I can honestly say that I cannot and do not want to change. I believe that people should be judged for their character and the for person they are on the inside and not for their ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or whatever the case may be. However, at the same time, I believe that individuals have a right to express pride in who they are and feel proud about what makes them unique.

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