When walking into her first day of high school Black History class, a friend of mine, the product of a black and white home, was greeted by her black teacher with, “You’re a light one, aren’t you?” I shudder still to think how my white mother and black godmother would’ve double-teamed the man with stern backhands had they been there. I think this because that is how both these women tended to handle thoughtless insensitivity – by touching upon the sensitive areas of one’s face so one would have something to think about.
I can’t imagine their reaction would be any different if the discussion of Obama’s blackness/whiteness had been brought to their morning-coffee routine. It’s safe to say the women of the village who raised me were not a tolerant lot. They had no tolerance for racism, and even less tolerance for those who insisted on making an issue of race. They knew a veil when they saw it, and they absolutely hated how much time, talent, and energy went unacknowledged and sometimes wasted while others harped about that which had nothing to do with the price of tea in China.
The growing interest in Obama’s ethnicity reminds me of those who heard someone say, “I’m going to bring a gun to school tomorrow,” but said nothing about it until reporters showed up to cover the story of yet another school shooting. These are people whose behavior is dictated by what garners the most spotlight rather than by any original thought.
President-Elect Barack Obama looks black to me. He looked black to just about everyone who knew and knew of him before he announced he would run for president. For over 40 years, his race and racial background was a relative non-issue. He was black. The end.
Then something changed – and it wasn’t Obama’s “blackness.”
What changed was the attitude of the very same people who, before he announced his candidacy, were neither here nor there about it. How it became and continues to be an issue for so many can only be explained one very disturbing sociological reality: For some blacks and whites, racial barriers provide a wall of comfort and familiarity, a wall they simultaneously (secretly) maintain and (outwardly) decry.
What a pickle for these people. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to reap the benefits of either victim or oppressor when others are running around blurring racial lines and compromising racial barriers with legislation and procreation.
Obama has identified himself with every part of his background, as have so many Americans of mixed heritage. Who are all these people who can’t take “mutt” for an answer and get on with their lives? Something about Obama is of such grave concern to them that they’ve made it the centerpiece of their lives, but what is it? It sure can’t be an issue of purity since the number of Americans questioning Obama’s ethnicity far exceeds the number of Americans who can say with any certainty that they are purely black or purely white.
Let s/he who is without genetic integration cast the first… whatever the hell it is you would cast in a situation like this.