Is Obama Black Enough?

CNN's Sunday morning "Reliable Sources" gave some air time to the question of whether or not the "black community" in the United States would accept 2008 Presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barak Obama, as "black enough". The correspondents pressed the notion that this man a first generation American whose father was African, yet who embodies the success of everything about the "American Dream" would not be acceptable to the American "black community" because New York Senator Hillary Clinton is married to former President Bill Clinton, the champion of the "black community". This discuss brings forth some interesting impressions in the minds of a political junkie (turned surgeon) like myself.

Senatory Obama, by all accounts, made the most of his educational opportunities. He has neither apologized for nor championed his race as the means for his excellent performance in undergradate or law school and into a career in politics. Like any person interested in being in the political arena, he studied and mastered the scholarship necessary for the career and positions that he seeks. As he set his sights on the highest political office in the United States, the new pundits have decided that they need to make sure that he is "black enough" for African-Americans because he seems to have an appeal for other races and ethnic groups in the United States. Why would Obama not appeal to African-Americans as well as any Americans who support his politics?

Contrast former President Bill Clinton and his campaign for the White House. I don't seem to recall that anyone questioned his "whiteness" when he sought the support of African-Americans and Latino voters (winning both). Well, if Bill Clinton appeals to a multi-ethnic constituency, then he cannot be "white" enough to appeal to white Americans.

Even on the same show, there was discussion of whether former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani, could win the Republican nomination for president because he is pro-choice and pro-gay rights in a party of evangelical christians who do not support either of these issues. Interesting that there was no discussion of whether Guiliani was "white" enough to appeal to the white voters in his party.

Whether you will support Obama and his positions on various issues in the upcoming election, make no mistake, he is going to be defined by his race (often negatively) because here in the United States, our culture does not allow people who appear to have ancestors from Africa to be defined by anything other than race first. First Senator Obama, you must be "black" enough to be labeled an African-American, and then we can discuss the merits of your campaign.

Certainly coverage of Senator Obama is going to provide an interesting look at our culture in the United States. Wouldn't it be fun, just this one time in 2008 when there has been more information at the fingertips of every voter, that the news media treated every candidate on the merits of their positions and not their sex or color? There is going to be so much to analyze and present before November 2008, that we can just get beyond the mistrust of anyone and anything that is not "white and male" that marked politics in the 1950s?

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Blogger Cavalor Epthith said...

See James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time pages 54-94.

February 15, 2007 at 8:42 PM  

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