Thursday, July 16, 2009

The First Black President?

In the days following Barack Obama’s election, Americans were feeling pretty darned progressive, if they did say so themselves. And they did say so, smugly and often, congratulating themselves on their fundamental human decency for having the grace to elect a black man. Something that would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago had become reality, and Americans basked in self-justified pride.

It’s one of the most common American clichés: anyone, no matter their race, color, class, or creed, can become president. Barack Obama is seen as fulfilling that ideal.

But let’s be realistic. Barack Obama’s blackness is, literally, only skin deep. Culturally, he is very, very white.

Obama’s father was his sole connection with any sort of African heritage. He left Obama’s mother when Barack was two. Four years later, Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, moved to Indonesia with her new husband, where Obama spent the next four years. After age ten, he was raised primarily (and at times exclusively) by his maternal grandparents. From the fifth grade through high school, he attended the Punahou School, an elite prep school.

From there, he went on to the exclusive Occidental College, then transferred to Columbia University. He picked up his law degree at Harvard, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Those are very strong credentials for president—in fact, looking at them, they are much stronger than those of either John McCain or Sarah Palin. (And yes, there are other considerations than education in the selection of a president, but education is a consideration).

Yet Obama’s experiences are not those of a “typical” black person. He grew up in a white family, and was educated at mostly white universities, and mingled with mostly white people during his formative years. Obama’s connection to Africa lies only in his genes, not his life experiences.

This is not a problem, unless you care about identity politics. Much of Barack Obama’s support arose from the fact that many wanted to be a part of the election of the first black president. But while it is hard to measure “blackness,” a half-Caucasian whose formation arose almost entirely from white culture is scarcely connected with the more general African-American experience.


At July 17, 2009 at 3:07 AM , Anonymous Avatar said...

I'm not an American but I saw his speech. It was fantastic. I think he's really capable to bring huge change. Lets wait and see...

At July 17, 2009 at 6:36 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Change is not always a good thing.

At July 17, 2009 at 6:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Republican party has helped the libs more than they think. Get Sarah to go after them when they are running again. She can set them right. This woman knows how to handle jerks like Frankin and the rest of the libs and some of the Republicans

At July 17, 2009 at 8:03 AM , Blogger Z-man said...

I blogged about this recently but we have a black guy at work who rats out his fellow black co-workers and who said to me about a week ago "I'm not into Michael Jackson's music and I think there's been too much coverage" but reading your blog just now I don't think of my co-worker as black at all ("ya sure you're black?"), could be his upbringing, the white company he kept, whatever. In fact this is one of the chief complaints about Obama from some blacks, he's really white. I'm getting some ChiaObamas later, anyone want one?

At July 20, 2009 at 6:45 AM , Anonymous britgyal25 said...

Hey people do you remember "…for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction."

Are you freaking kidding me? The woman is 44-years old. And this is the “first time she’s ever been really proud of her country”? Really? How horribly pathetic.

* I’ve been proud of my country every single day of my life. So proud, in fact, that I volunteered to go fight and possibly die for my country. The day I enlisted in the US Army is the single proudest moment in my life. Perhaps if Michele or Barack had ever done anything as selfless in service of their country, they would feel the same way.
* The life and death of SFC Paul R. Smith and so many others who have given their lives to defend America makes me proud of my country and the people who live and die defending it. Michelle Obama could care less.
* She was nearly an adult when the US Hockey team beat the Commies in 1980. No sense of pride during that, Michelle? Heartless bitch.
* No sense of pride for our country during the horrific tsunami at the end of 2004, and the way that the United States responded — both our government’s response and the generous millions of dollars in private donations —- to help the victims? No sense of pride in that?
* When I heard about Todd Beamer and the other passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 who rallied behind a cry of “Let’s roll” — I cried with pride for my fellow countrymen. Apparently Michelle Obama was unmoved.

I could think of thousands upon thousands of other examples of when I was bursting with pride about my country. I’m sure most of you could too. I’ll bet the most cynical and jaded amongst you have moments in your life where you were immensely proud of our country.
And how about the US Army and Marines who freed the Jews from the Nazi concentration camps! Was she not proud of that?

No, not Michelle. It took Obamasiah and the cult of Obamania to really make her proud to be an American.

What a ungrateful bitch.

At July 20, 2009 at 2:28 PM , Anonymous Time said...

These right wingers are so passionate about their being right, that many are afraid they may become violent.

Oh, that's right, some have become violent.

It's America the way they define it, and no other definition is acceptable.

Why is it always the nut jobs on the right, that murder over political ideology? (Abortion, immigration, etc.)

Did the liberal nut jobs murder people when abortion was illegal?

It's intolerance. They will not accept any vision, or view of America besides their own, and they are willing to hurt America and Americans to get their way.

Issues like health care. They are willing to let Americans wallow in pain and bankruptcy, rather than have a system they disagree with made law, yet they give no alternative of their own.

At July 21, 2009 at 7:55 AM , Blogger Z-man said...

"liberal nut jobs" - you mean people like Bill Ayers?

Honestly Time everything you say about us right-wingers can be equally applied to left-wingers. Left-wingers are as sure of their own political worldview as us righties, ever watch Bill Moyers? So is it bad exactly to have convictions and think you're right? I wrote at my blog the other day politics, indeed life in general is about the eternal tension between opposites so unless you're not into drama I don't know why you'd necessarily view this as a bad thing. I don't know where you get your insinuations of violence from, been 11 years between shootings of abortionists which are roundly condemned by the pro-life groups when they rarely happen.

At July 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM , Blogger A Proud Leftwinger said...

Some time back, Homeland Security Dept released a report on right wing nuts. Even through President Bush had the report made, the wing nuts made a big stink about it. If I remember correctly, it mentioned some groups that were against something or other. Abortion was, I think, one of the groups.

Whatever a woman's reasons, if a fetus are non-viable, it's her call as to whether she goes full term or not. Period. End of story. Whether you think it's "disgusting" or not, it should be between a woman and her doctor. It's only "hot button" because agitators like to make it one to rile up the right-wing male audience who don't like the idea of women having any control whatsoever over their own bodies when it comes to reproduction.

I wonder what the outcry would be if someone killed queer Rush or some other right wing commentator? Would their ever be the same kind of hate posts this incident has brought forth. And from both sides? Just one hell of a mess. A doctor, doing what is legal under the law, gets killed. And probably because the accused didn't like what the Dr was doing. Sicking, isn't it? Or do you people think otherwise?

At July 22, 2009 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Let me guess, you're not pro-abortion though.

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