So, I've heard this topic discussed on the radio, TV and I've even had a few of my friends call me and pose a question about Barack Obama's "black-ness" (if there is such a thing). The reasoning/logic behind this question is as follows:
The Logic: Because Barack Obama is bi-racial & was raised by whites in a less than urban environment & doesn't use many of the colloquialisms traditionally used by African-Americans in the United States & didn't chase the dime or the shine once graduating from Harvard & confused "Weezie" with "Elizabeth" while holding his heart stating, "this is the big one!"...he isn't really black...at least not as black as most other blacks that live in these United States.
Useful Analogy: There once was a man who decided to have a Bengal tiger as a pet. He got it when it was only a few days old and raised it as a house cat. He fed and loved the tiger as much and many other folks in his neighborhood loved their dogs and goldfish. One day, the police came to his door and informed him that it was against a city ordinance to have an exotic pet at his home. The man tried to explain that "Simba" was not an exotic animal because he had raised him in his home for years. He'd never had any trouble with Simba and the neighbor's kids loved to play with the both of them in his back yard. Simba was de-clawed and had lost all his hunting instincts. Even after showing the officer video tapes to back his claims, Simba could no longer stay in the house because he was, in fact, an exotic animal.
Black Defined: Let's first take a look at the term black, and see if we can get a better historical perspective of what it means to be black in America [and I do question if CNN got it right too]. According to Wikipedia:
"In their attempt to impose segregation and restore white supremacy in the late 19th century, some southern states created laws defining a person as black if the person had any known African ancestry. This was a stricter interpretation than what had prevailed earlier. It became known as the one-drop rule, meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person "black". Some courts called it the traceable amount rule, and anthropologists used to call it the hypodescent rule, meaning that racially mixed persons were assigned the status of the subordinate group."
So, according to the oppressor, if you have any black in you, you are black...period. The entire concept of being black was conceived as a tool to better discriminate, segregate and oppress. The truth is, when we think of it's origin, we ought to be as outraged at the term as we are at the infamous "N-Word", but that's another blog all together.
The ill-dichotomy of the questioning of Barack's black-ness is that I've mostly heard this question raised in black circles. The same circles that would want to march and boycott Hollywood and others for only portraying Blacks in a stereotypical light. We get mad when we are only portrayed as thugs, dope dealers, athletes, rappers, pimps, hoes, ignorant, hyper-sexual, greedy, funny, sexist, etc. and yet we dare to question Barack's authenticity because of his lack of stereotypically inspired black characteristics?!?!? A Bengal tiger is a Bengal tiger regardless of how it was raised and Barack Obama is black because of how the oppressor has defined the term.
But let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I think that the posing of this question is only a symptom, and not the problem. Why would we question Barack's authenticity? Why wouldn't we want him to be black like us? I believe that many of us need to feel that there are certain heights we can not achieve because of the pigmentation of our skin or color class we've been assigned. Many of us need to know that even if we work hard, and do our best, we are destined to some level of failure because of America's history. Logically speaking, if a black man can become president in America, then surely I can become a college graduate or a business owner, or a dedicated father...right? If Barack Husein Obama can have an Oval Office, then I can avoid having an eight by twelve cell...can't I? I am in NO WAY suggesting that Barack's election as our president-elect signals the end of racism, prejudice and injustice in the United States. Quite the contrary. The truth is that America is still infested deep in her bowels, with a cancer that won't be cured with any one election. His election does, however, signify that America is going through a type of chemotherapy and is trying to rid herself of the ills of her past and present. It is my hope, that the day of her remission isn't as far off as I once thought.
I'm Thed Weller and I approve this message.