Getting the Black Man--Wait, the Mixed Man--Out of the White House

I had a conversation with a friend today about Mitt Romney's comments after the violent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. My friend expressed disbelief that Romney's made it this far in the presidential election process. "I just can't understand how he's really the best candidate the Republicans have," he told me.

I told him that just like people assumed black folks only voted for Obama because he's black, some white folks think their fellow white Americans will vote for any ole candidate as long as that person has one major qualification: MUST NOT BE BLACK. And, keep it real, there are people who want a black man out of the White House so much that they're not even thinking about the character of the candidates or what they will do for the nation. It's all about skin color and going back to the so-called good-old days.

With that in mind, I chuckled a little when I saw the above video over at Colorlines where Obama describes himself "as a mixed kid from Hawaii born to a single-mom." Indeed, as much as hoopla as there's been over President Obama's blackness, there's also the fact of his white mother. 

The "are you mixed?" question used to annoy me to no end when I was a kid. As recently as my college years I was sometimes referred to as "that weird mixed girl." I never took "weird" as a diss. I figured it was better to be weird than stupid. Or ugly. Or annoying. Weird simply means people couldn't reconcile my physical appearance with my Depeche Mode obsession.

Anyway, later on today another friend got a little annoyed that Obama described himself in the video as mixed. She felt that he is trying to distance himself from black people and make white voters feel more comfortable by throwing up the "mixed" identity flag.

Sigh, remember a couple of years ago when the biracial community was mad that Obama checked "black" on the Census? Not to get all tragic mulatto, but good grief, can the brother get a break? He has to deal with anti-American uprisings in the Middle East and we're tripping over him possibly trying to ditch his black heritage? Alrighty then.

America still has a hard time with the idea that mixed and black are not mutually exclusive. And I still don't hear anybody asking why Obama doesn't ever call himself white or check the white box. If he'd stepped up to the mic and said, "as a white kid from Hawaii..." America probably would've burst into flames.


Jennifer said…
Maybe we should stop making people identify themselves by race on forms. It sometimes seems like it's just an excuse to perpetuate racism and stereotypes. If everyone was just an "american" maybe there would be less division and we could all worry about people's character?

Or everyone can just close their eyes and LISTEN to what the candidates are saying rather than being 'distracted' by what they look like. (this goes for male vs female candidates too! There would probably be a lot more women in politics if the men didn't know they were voting for a woman!) Maybe each candidate should be assigned a CodeName and the public never sees what they look like...then we'd be voting on the ISSUES that REALLY matter and not voting based on stupid stuff. (Not saying that race or gender is stupid..but that being the deciding factor in someone's vote is the stupid part!)
Anonymous said…
I don't understand why a mixed race person has to say they are black? They are mixed race and should be allowed to embrace both cultures. I think african americans have issues. So it's a crime for a mixed race person to say they are mixed race?
They are as much white as they are black so what's the problem with being clear about what you are. Some black people are so annoying. Thank God I am not american and my kids can happily identify as mixed race. They will embrace my african side and their dad's European side. No crime there.

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