The presidential race has become racial – surprise, surprise. In such a racially-focused society, it did not take long. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s brown skin inevitably prompted speculations about his true “blackness” from politicians and the populous.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., another Democratic presidential hopeful, took it upon himself to commend Obama on, what I’m sure he thinks is, an impossible feat of weaseling his way into the race. He told the “New York Observer,” “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
Biden’s attempt was feeble, his delivery was atrocious and his apology left many with furrowed brows and balled fists.
Obama, like the regal man he is, vouched for Biden, saying that although Biden’s comments were “historically inaccurate,” it was the least of our worries and that we have bigger issues like Iraq and health care to address.
So far so good, Obama.Y
ou can’t slip up. You have the title of “first black” to uphold.
I must say, a “first black” in this day and age is not only ridiculous, it is maddening. Yes, Obama is kind of a big deal, but thus far, he has been discussed for the wrong reasons.
An editorial in the “Philadelphia Inquirer”
addressed the fact that some Americans have no clue that Obama is black. When they did come to terms with the mind-blowing news, they stood by the claim that he’s not “actually black,” he’s biracial. The columnist pointed out that “. . . most African Americans are multiracial. . . .You can be as ‘biracial’ as you want; so long as your features show any hint of Africa, that world is going to give you the treatment it reserves for ‘black.'”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. No, Obama will not be Tiger Woods No. 2. He does not refer to himself as “caublasian” nor half-black. Obama refers to himself as African American, but does not deny the fact that he has a white mother and a black father. He knows who he is, what he is and how society plays out for people that look like him. That kind of self-awareness is admirable.
But why should anyone believe that Obama is black? All the clean-cut, articulate politicians are white, right? Therefore, Obama has to be white to fulfill these qualities. Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley Braun are clearly irrelevant to Biden and – dare I say it – many other white politicians. I can see why Obama is such a rare breed – not in the context of race, but in the realm of politics at large.
On a recent trip to Selma, Ala., marking the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 Selma voting rights march, Obama even stated that his mother’s ancestors owned slaves. On that same trip, Obama discussed his ties to that time in history, calling himself “the offspring of the movement.”
Obama has personal ties to this era and this alone adds a unique element to his campaign that many other politicians could not even fathom. Obama is more attuned to the needs of not only minorities but all people because he is black.
Obama is not only a champion for African Americans, but for all Americans. He needs to be viewed this way. Obama has nothing more to prove than Sen. Hillary Clinton does. He should not be forced to flash his black card, nor should judgments be passed because of the amount of melanin in his skin. To say there’s a long way to go would be an extreme understatement.
Sure, Obama’s bid for the presidency is historical. Now that we have stated the obvious, let’s get on with it because, as Obama said, we have bigger fish to fry.
Dashira Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.