Obama’s Right

The issue of race underlies this presidential campaign. Periodically it surfaces, and will continue to. There has been much talk usually revolving around what seems two axis, is Obama not black enough, that is mainly for African Americans who want to make sure that issues affecting the African American community will be dealt with, and its counterpart, is he too black, that is mainly for whites who fear that his allegiance to the African Community will color (no pun intended) his presidential decisions, a concern shared by other minorities who want to make sure their priorities will be included.
When we think along those lines we place the burden on Obama, not ourselves. It’s as if we denied the fact that we live in a society that is still racist– Colin Powell and Condi Rice notwithstanding. We may have opened the doors to accept African Americans in positions of power including president, but that doesn’t mean we’re no longer racist. If we were capable of living up to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of judging people by the content of their character, then Obama’s color wouldn’t even matter. Certainly it wouldn’t be talked about. He wouldn’t have had to give a speech on race, and he wouldn’t be in the position of having to address or defend race in the future. The questions stem from the kind of society we now live in, a society where race still matters. Barak Obama is bi-racial with an African father and a white American mother. By that standard he’s also bi-cultural. We tend to accept that fact and glide over it. It’s easy to because we understand bi-cultural far more than bi-racial. If he’s both black and white, why should he automatically be classified as black? Where is his right to be white? I know his skin looks dark, but the fact is his mother, half of his gene pool, was white. Oughtn’t he to be able to choose what he is, the way people do about their cultural heritage. My niece who has an Italian father is certain to be Italian in an Italian restaurant. The rest of the time it depends on the situation or on what’s going on in her life. She isn’t labeled, isn’t forced to choose, she retains her freedom to be both or either given the circumstance. Not so with bi-racial people, they have to be black. August Wilson, the late Pulitzer prize winning playwright, himself bi-racial, understood and made a conscious choice. He chose to be black. It may have been only the appearance of a choice, since he really didn’t have one in our society, but it was an important message. Barak Obama, as any bi-racial person, should be what he is, what he wants, what he chooses, not what we label him as. When we give him that right, racism will be dealt a fatal blow.