Friday, November 7, 2008

One small step for man, one giant leap for semantics.

For those of who were waiting for "history," you'll have to keep waiting.

Listen, I am not a racist. Far from it. I hate just as many white people as I hate blacks and latinos. Just kidding. I evaluate everybody on a meritocracy basis. Those people who exhibit values and motivations that I think are noble, I applaud and respect. When people are hard working, self-accountable and responsible, the color of their skin is as insignificant as their eye color. However, there are some who are too quick to quip "so, you look at them like they were a white person?" No, my evaluations of people do not lie on a White version of a Kinsey scale, with the most noble people being "Very White," somewhat flawed yet well-meaning people being "Somewhat White" and people with no motivations and a sense of entitlement being "Least White." Every type of person can have any types of values. I find it ironic that some Whites are accused of racism when they aren't categorizing on basis of color, yet minorities are the first to draw color line differentiation.

Obama is not a Black man. Obama is part Kenyan and part White. There are a couple of issues that are bothering me.

The First:
When Obama was running against Hillary in the primaries, his camp was on the preemptive to portray him in a White light. "Look at his White mom, look at his White aunt and White grandma, he identifies with his White family," etc. Obama himself realized the "fear" middle-of-the-road middle America might have with him ,when he used the word "scary" in his tirade of how "they," who I can only interpret as being conservatives, will try to make him look "scary." Don't be scared of The One - he's as White as white bread, as White as you and me. His color is a technicality.

Now that he is president-elect, he is suddenly blackitty black black, the first Black man to accomplish this, the first Black man to accomplish that. You know what - Halle Barry wasn't the first Black woman to win an Academy Award; Tiger Woods wasn't the first Black golfer to win the millions of tournaments he has won. All are the first biracial or multiracial people to have earned their respective accomplishments, a sentiment echoed by my biracial boyfriend, who was the first to say "I'm not black, I'm not white, I'm biracial. I don't categorize myself as either black or white." To stay in the spirit of my argument - what about Obama's White half? To claim him as Black, commodify him as part of the Black race and culture, to say "we have someone in the White House" is to deny the millions of Whites who not only voted for him and love him, but who relate to him on as many levels as Blacks do. To say he is the first Black man in office is not only to enforce the Civil War notions of quantifying a person's worth (vis a vis slave vs. freeman status) by their Black heritage percentage, but it is also as incorrect as if somebody wanted to try defining Obama as "the first White 47 year old man to become President." This brings me to my second point:

Number Two:
To make any differentiation on color lines is to enforce racism. To arbitrarily separate people or classify them based on their color is to enforce color lines and works against the idea of integration via blurring of color lines. For there to truly not be any racism, for this election to signal the death knell of racism, there would have had to have been no acknowledgement of Obama's race whatsoever. I think by constantly boxing and framing Obama as "the first Black president" goes way beyond a simple celebration of a cultural achievement, (such as Italians being proud of Leonardo di Vinci for example) since Obama does not identify with nor is part of the conventional Black culture, but rather by default negates White supporters from having anything to be proud of themselves. I guess the only solution to this conundrum would be to reclassify the Black race as a culture, since we do not say Italians are a race, or the French are a race, and it is obvious that there are as many or more differences between different mother nationalities of Black people than differences between French and Italians. In that case, we all have to sit down and say, for depriving their race from ever developing nationalism because they coerced them forcibly into crossing the Atlantic and becoming slaves, their compensation is that the can without hesitation identify with each other on a race level rather than a national one. From anecdotal evidence alone, I know of so many biracial or multiracial individuals say "I'm Irish and Asian" or "I'm British and Black." Well...there are as many "Asian" options are there are European ones, are you Laotian, Filipino, Thai, Korean, etc? Are you Nigerian, Libyan, Moroccan, South African, Sudanese? As mentioned above, it is unfortunate that due to horrible things that happened in the past, people were deprived from ever knowing in a sense, but if that is the case, it needs to be addressed instead of deferring to race as a panacea in order to identify with anyone you please.

To conclude, to say "Obama is the first Black president" is neither accurate, nor is it fair. By the fact that Black people keep claiming "in our lifetimes" and "we never thought we'd see it" implies they as a culture and a race have been defining themselves as different regardless of White attitudes, and are not interested in genuine integration and the cessation of racism.

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