I suppose this could have been written months ago, or be put off until next Tuesday, but I saw a comment in the newspaper today and it just got me to thinking a little.
The comment was regarding a bi-racial child, whose grandparent wasn’t happy with racial designations provided on official paperwork; she stated that usually only “black” or “white” were the proferred choices. I happen to know that’s inaccurate, but that’s not the point.
The individual closed by saying that the granddaughter was neither “black” nor “white”, but a new race, the Obama Race.
Is this a joke? Race is not designated by skin color. How absurd. Race, as defined by Webster’s, is considered “a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock”, or “a class or kind of people”, or even “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits”. Can the term “Obama Race” fall into any of these definitions?
Perhaps, by a stretch. A very long stretch. But race is not determined by one characteristic alone, and a new one can certainly not be created on the whim of an individual. Of course, if bi-racial, or black/white, or whatever term one uses, can be considered a “race”, then it’s certainly been around for a long time. And naming it after someone who is arguably the most famous person in the world at this time is nothing more than a gratuitous stunt.
I did not vote for Obama. His race had nothing to do with it. I consider him too young, too inexperienced, and too naive. Neither am I black or bi-racial.
I understand this individual who commented probably has great pride in Obama’s accomplishment in being elected President of the United States. I understand it, even while something escapes me: to be truly free of racism, something which minority communities frequently accuse whites of being, color or race should be irrelevant.
It’s almost as though I myself should be “proud” if a blond, green-eyed president were elected, simply because he shared a couple of my physical characteristics. Does that make he and I a “race” unto ourselves, even including others with these attributes? I don’t think so.
I agree that the “Obama Race” is rather myopic; however, the term race in this socio-political context is more than a biological classification. People of the same race share a common history, a common set of family traditions, a common identity. Although much of the majority–meaning the “whites”–believe race is irrelevant, race actually provides a barometer to the minority of this country. The greater their group can succeed in terms of socio-political status, the more that group will believe that the door of opportunity is open to their posterity and the shackles of past injustices have been broken. Yes, I am a white female, a pro-McCain voter, and even though I hoped my minority friends would vote issues and not race, I realize how this country cannot sweep the topic of race under the rug. Fortunately or unfortunately, race still matters.
Right on! I don’t understand how one person can get so much acclaim when he hasn’t done anything.
Kudos, Robin, on a great article. I find it interesting that many people still claim Obama as black. He had one white parent and one black parent, so he is neither white nor black, correct?
Thanks, Nan! Yes, exactly what it seems – if he has one black parent, and one white, why would you call him “black”? Doesn’t matter to me, but just who continues to propagate the race issue?
I’m not sure I understand what is upsetting about the grandparent of a biracial child attempting to associate her with our recently elected president, who is also biracial. I read this article more as a statement about how Obama has become a symbol of what a person who happens to have an African father can attain in our society. This is significant because less than 50 years ago a biracial child would have been regarded as a disgrace, but now it is possible to imagine that she can accomplish anything. Did I miss something? What’s wrong with that?
No, there is nothing wrong with the association – it was the presumption of claiming Obama as the progenitor of a new race, the “Obama Race”. I suppose my main point was lost in the translation, in that bi-racial or even multi-racial individuals are not a “new” creation, let alone should, with all due respect, be named for a man who has not yet done much but win an election.