CurlTalk

So, what color IS Obama?

susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
This has been bothering me for a while.

He's not black, he is biracial. His mother is a white American, his father is a black Kenyan. Why does this make him black? He had a middle class white upbringing and, according to his own autobiography, he didn't attempt to explore his 'blackness' until he was in his late teens and afterwards. (seriously paraphrasing). He is married to a black woman, and probably involved in her family also. Great.

I've read articles about him in UK papers and they refer to him as biracial. Most papers around the world do.

So, why is he 'black'?
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  • iris427iris427 Posts: 6,002Registered Users
    I can think of two possibilities:

    1. The "one drop rule" which has been used in this country for its entire existence, which basically went that if a person had even a drop of African blood, they were black.

    2. He identifies as black.

    I'm not sure how he identifies, actually, but I think people should get to determine that for themselves and other people should respect it. If someone wants to be called black or someone wants to be called biracial, I just think it's respectful to use whatever they prefer.
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  • MichelleBFTMichelleBFT Posts: 4,812Registered Users
    So, why is he 'black'?

    Why does it matter?
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  • midgimidgi Posts: 2,409Registered Users
    Haha! This discussion was covered at the end of this thread: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/showthread.php?t=49691&page=4

    However, it wasn't resolved because there's no "real" or "accepted' answer to this issue and at this point, it's all based on personal preference.
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  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
    So, why is he 'black'?
    Why does it matter?

    I don't care one way or the other, but I read about him and what he says about himself. I think about excerpts from his book of his early days (HS, college, etc), how the media promotes him as potentially the first black president and I just wonder.

    I'd also think it would be or was at some point, a real conflict for him. Grew up in a white community, white mother and grandparents...sort of mind boggling. Then he reconnected with his family in Africa and that must also have been a real trip.

    My sister recounted a conversation she had with a coworker the other day. The woman (who is black) mentioned that she was not voting for him and that some of her community (circie of friends maybe? I can't find the word I want to use there) were shocked and mad at her because she wasn't going to. The woman told my sister that she'd told her friends and family that she considered him not black or white, but biracial. She felt that was a real advantage to him, but she was rather annoyed that her friends assumed she would automatically vote for him because the black community has endorsed him....and the conversation was playing back in the background of my mind and I just got to wondering....and wanted some feedback from here.

    And thanks for the link. I missed that conversation.:wink:
    My son wears combat boots (and a parachute). So does my son-in-law.
    The older I get, the less patience I have with cleverness. Thomas Sowell.
    Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. Benjamin Franklin.
    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain.

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  • Myradella3Myradella3 Posts: 2,481Registered Users
    His color? I'm thinking it's a taupe, maybe a dark beige?

    Regarding race, until 2000 the U.S. government made him choose. That's the year that the census allowed for multiracial categories. So for the first 38 years of his life, a race had to be chosen. He chose the one into which society would likely place him. Think about it. Suppose he said - having been forced to choose - that he was white. Do you think he'd have trouble with ID cards? passports?
  • battinlashbattinlash Posts: 1,850Registered Users
    Myradella3 wrote: »
    His color? I'm thinking it's a taupe, maybe a dark beige?

    Regarding race, until 2000 the U.S. government made him choose. That's the year that the census allowed for multiracial categories. So for the first 38 years of his life, a race had to be chosen. He chose the one into which society would likely place him. Think about it. Suppose he said - having been forced to choose - that he was white. Do you think he'd have trouble with ID cards? passports?

    Really? I didn't know this. Very interesting.
  • Nappy_curly_crownNappy_curly_crown Posts: 4,162Registered Users
    honestly, if he was walking down the street and was just another joe blow....NO ONE would think that he was anything other than a black man.
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  • redcelticcurlsredcelticcurls Posts: 17,502Registered Users
    honestly, if he was walking down the street and was just another joe blow....NO ONE would think that he was anything other than a black man.

    True enough. How many people would walk up to him and say: "Excuse me sir, are you black or multi-racial?"
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  • Myradella3Myradella3 Posts: 2,481Registered Users
    I should clarify. Before 2000, we all had to choose one race. Starting in 2000, people could choose more than one race for the first time. That meant that people whose parents were not of the same race, could acknowledge and identify with each race that they felt they were. There is not, to my knowledge, a multiracial or biracial category.
  • CurlyMireyaCurlyMireya Banned Posts: 956Banned Users
    I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you? You obviously dislike Obama, from seeing your other posts. I don't understand what you're getting at here. Do you think he should call himself white because he had a "white upbringing?" Do you feel rebuffed that he calls himself black? "White" is very exclusive in our U.S. society. If you are biracial, and call yourself biracial, even when just answering the question, "what is your background?" you will get scoffed at by members of the non-white race(s) you belong to and be accused of trying to be better than the plain old black/Latino that you are. It's a no win situation. It's obviously a very personal matter. I don't know or care why Obama chooses to identify as black, though I'm guessing he had similar experiences to mine growing up which influenced him.

    I don't understand the nitpicking on non-political issues when it comes to Obama. It seems that some conservatives want to find any little thing to be bothered by and use to get to internal fears that many whites have (or that they feel they have anyway) about voting for a black man. You may not be doing that, but I see similar seemingly genuine questions about Obama on forums that end up coming from Obama haters as a way to try to drum up support.
    "I'm half Hispanic, half white, and look like an Indian." - Bill Richardson
  • Shooting StarShooting Star Posts: 167Registered Users
    Barack Obama is biracial: black and white. Now there are different reasons as to why Barack Obama is considered black:

    1. The One Drop Rule: As mentioned earlier, the ODR is something that this country has used in terms of race for a long time. If a person has one drop of African blood in them, they are considered black. If the person has features that would be considered African (Wide nose, full lips, kinky hair, dark skin) then that person is considered black even if the person has a white parent or a parent of any other race. Make sense?

    2. He calls himself black. If Barack Obama wants to call himself black then he can. He has said that he is biracial, but he identifies more with his black side. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong that. He can choose to identify with whatever he likes.

    So those are the two major reasons why Barack is black. Like I said, biracial means that you are both races genetically, however, a person can choose to identify culturally with whatever side they choose.

    If you're not that big of a Barack fan in the first place, why are you worrying about what race he is? It's his abilities that make him a good candidate for the presidency, not his race.
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  • godgivenpermgodgivenperm Posts: 678Registered Users
    I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?

    Well, from my observation it obviously matters to the candidates too. Not just Obama, former candidate Bill Richardson plays up his Hispanic side far more than his American side (yes, I've read his bio).

    <And to go on record, I don't like either candidate Rep or Dem.>
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  • CurlyMireyaCurlyMireya Banned Posts: 956Banned Users
    I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?

    Well, from my observation it obviously matters to the candidates too. Not just Obama, former candidate Bill Richardson plays up his Hispanic side far more than his American side (yes, I've read his bio).

    <And to go on record, I don't like either candidate Rep or Dem.>

    I'm interested in why it matters to the OP specifically, especially since, like others have mentioned, she doesn't like Obama and has had only negative things to post about him so far. I want to know why Obama identifying as black is problem with her and/or a negative thing.

    Richardson has been accused of being "fly by night white" by Hispanics. He's often brought up the fact that he's half white, half Hispanic (like in the quote in my signature). Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain? Maybe he is proud of being Hispanic. Maybe Obama is proud of being black. Every time a politician brings up his/her racial background, I doubt it is because they think it will help advance them. It is just who they are, and maybe they want to talk about it publicly now that they have the chance to be heard - minorities have been made to feel like we have to hush up because bringing up the r word makes people uncomfortable. In many if not most arenas in this 60% white majority country, being black or Hispanic is a major disadvantage, anyway. I'm tired of people accusing Obama of playing the race card. IMO, it's the other side playing it, covertly.
    "I'm half Hispanic, half white, and look like an Indian." - Bill Richardson
  • Shooting StarShooting Star Posts: 167Registered Users
    I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?

    Well, from my observation it obviously matters to the candidates too. Not just Obama, former candidate Bill Richardson plays up his Hispanic side far more than his American side (yes, I've read his bio).

    <And to go on record, I don't like either candidate Rep or Dem.>

    I'm interested in why it matters to the OP specifically, especially since, like others have mentioned, she doesn't like Obama and has had only negative things to post about him so far. I want to know why Obama identifying as black is problem with her and/or a negative thing.

    Richardson has been accused of being "fly by night white" by Hispanics. He's often brought up the fact that he's half white, half Hispanic (like in the quote in my signature). Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain? Maybe he is proud of being Hispanic. Maybe Obama is proud of being black. Every time a politician brings up his/her racial background, I doubt it is because they think it will help advance them. It is just who they are, and maybe they want to talk about it publicly now that they have the chance to be heard - minorities have been made to feel like we have to hush up because bringing up the r word makes people uncomfortable. In many if not most arenas in this 60% white majority country, being black or Hispanic is a major disadvantage, anyway. I'm tired of people accusing Obama of playing the race card. IMO, it's the other side playing it, covertly.

    Very nice post! You hit the nail on the head!
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  • godgivenpermgodgivenperm Posts: 678Registered Users
    Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain?

    Yes, I am. But it's deeper than than. I think ALL politicians will use anything they can to get voters of all ethnic identities, religions, economic levels, employment status, etc. to identify with them and get the votes.

    I don't care about the ethnicity of a candidate, I only care about their stance on issues. That's what I want to hear about. I don't vote down strict party lines; I vote on the candidate whose stance on issues I most identify with.

    I do think it's really sad though that some people will not vote for a candidate just because of race or religion. I can't believe we haven't gotten past that in parts this country.
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  • CurlyMireyaCurlyMireya Banned Posts: 956Banned Users
    Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain?

    Yes, I am. But it's deeper than than. I think ALL politicians will use anything they can to get voters of all ethnic identities, religions, economic levels, employment status, etc. to identify with them and get the votes.

    I don't care about the ethnicity of a candidate, I only care about their stance on issues. That's what I want to hear about. I don't vote down strict party lines; I vote on the candidate whose stance on issues I most identify with.

    I do think it's really sad though that some people will not vote for a candidate just because of race or religion. I can't believe we haven't gotten past that in parts this country.

    I don't get how a politician can "use" their race to get voters. Is simply mentioning your race a ploy to get voters? I don't see politicians discussing race very often unless it's brought up. In fact, I've only seen Obama do it after constant pressure from the Wright mess - and I don't think it scored him any points at all, from anyone.

    I think it's sad you think ALL politicians use their race to get votes. I actually think it would be nearly impossible for a white politician to overtly use his/her race without getting pummelled by the media. You are what you are, and your race can make you more appealing to certain people of the same race, but I don't get how a candidate would intentionally, overtly use his or her race. A Hispanic politician will naturally have an advantage over a white/Asian/black person in a heavily populated Hispanic area, but using your Hispanic-ness (if that is even possible, which I'm not so sure) could lead to isolating yourself from other voters. The media is everywhere now. For example, Obama can't very well target his message to black people when talking to a mostly black crowd because non-black voters will see it, and many will see it as exclusionary.

    I know of a local black politician who was a big supporter of black-owned businesses, and did a lot for programs for black people. He came from an urban, largely black area, but I wouldn't accuse him of solely supporting these things to win black voters. For one, he would have to know that when he went for a larger position that covered a larger, whiter portion of the state, that the other party would paint him as an urban black politician to scare rural white voters (which they did and seemed to be successful from the response I've gotten from talking to these voters).
    "I'm half Hispanic, half white, and look like an Indian." - Bill Richardson
  • SuburbanbushbabeSuburbanbushbabe Posts: 15,402Registered Users
    He looks like the color of an American President to me.
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  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
    Myradella3 wrote: »
    His color? I'm thinking it's a taupe, maybe a dark beige?

    LOL! Hadn't thought about it that way...but I guess so...probably can't say it's a pretty or nice color w/o getting ragged...but rather a nice au lait :D McCain isn't really pasty, but uneven skin color.

    Regarding race, until 2000 the U.S. government made him choose. That's the year that the census allowed for multiracial categories. So for the first 38 years of his life, a race had to be chosen. He chose the one into which society would likely place him. Think about it. Suppose he said - having been forced to choose - that he was white. Do you think he'd have trouble with ID cards? passports?

    Didn't know that...I've not filled out the race or ethnic part since it became optional. Don't see why it matters in most situations.
    My son wears combat boots (and a parachute). So does my son-in-law.
    The older I get, the less patience I have with cleverness. Thomas Sowell.
    Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. Benjamin Franklin.
    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain.

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  • Myradella3Myradella3 Posts: 2,481Registered Users
    susancnw wrote: »

    Didn't know that...I've not filled out the race or ethnic part since it became optional. Don't see why it matters in most situations.


    So if it doesn't matter, why has it been 'bothering' you for some time which race he says he is?

    Why mention if he's taupe or beige or gray (as one poster on another board said) at all?

    What color was Reagan and did that enter into any political discussions in 1976 or 1980?
  • AmnerisAmneris Posts: 15,117Registered Users
    How he identifies or defines himself is HIS decision and HIS business - no one else's. But in general, the world sees him as a Black man, not this "biracial" business, so I don't think it is that crazy to call himself Black. And not all people of mixed race are conflicted or have issues - that's rather insulting to assume.
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  • confusedmaidenconfusedmaiden Posts: 59Registered Users
    Brownish. ;-) Seriously tho, I like that Obama honors both sides of who he is, but it's clear that he identifies as a black man because that is how the world sees him. He's not wrong to do it. He wouldn't be wrong to identify as biracial either. How he wants to identify is his business. Instead of arguing about it, maybe we should shut up and accept what he says about that particular thing, because as far as that is concerned, he has the final say on it.

    ETA: And by the way, OP, maybe you should review why this "bothers" you so much. This has nothing, NOTHING, to do with how good of a president he will be. Get over this race nonsense and get to the heart of the matter.

    Unless this race issue IS the heart of the matter for you.
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  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
    I don't care if the next president is purple. I thought my question was a fairly simple one...maybe I didn't phrase it correctly. That's possible.

    The question was posed to get a reasoned response from the community here. I've read/heard a lot of questions and discussions on it and I apparently made the mistake of thinking that I could ask that question here and not have everyone's hackles raise over it...I've read blogs in various communities online and have read a wide variety of responses.

    Guess that I won't make that mistake again.
    My son wears combat boots (and a parachute). So does my son-in-law.
    The older I get, the less patience I have with cleverness. Thomas Sowell.
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  • jamaica81jamaica81 Posts: 115Registered Users
    He looks like the color of an American President to me.

    NICE! :tongue5:
  • Myradella3Myradella3 Posts: 2,481Registered Users
    susancnw wrote: »
    The question was posed to get a reasoned response from the community here. I've read/heard a lot of questions and discussions on it and I apparently made the mistake of thinking that I could ask that question here and not have everyone's hackles raise over it...I've read blogs in various communities online and have read a wide variety of responses.

    Guess that I won't make that mistake again.


    Did our responses differ from those you've gotten on other blogs? Did the other blogs explain that he HAD to choose according to the U.S. Census bureau? I can't imagine what other comments there could be. He's biracial, calls himself African American because that's what he is and that's what he looks like. How many different explanations can there be?

    Another day, I'd love to know why, if you've seen the topic discussed other places and gotten reasoned responses, why it bothered you?

    Nicole Ritchie is biracial but identifies as White. Tiger Woods is biracial but identifies as Caulablasian (sp?). Halle Berry is biracial but identifies as Black. None of their choices should bother any of us.
  • AngularScienceAngularScience Posts: 844Registered Users
    Amneris wrote: »
    How he identifies or defines himself is HIS decision and HIS business - no one else's. But in general, the world sees him as a Black man, not this "biracial" business, so I don't think it is that crazy to call himself Black. And not all people of mixed race are conflicted or have issues - that's rather insulting to assume.

    I'm curious how it's insulting to assume that biracial people are conflicted/have issues. Even if the person doesn't let it get to him, he often has to go through a lot of prejudice from both sides. Case and point: white people call Obama black, but then there are black people who say Obama isn't "black enough" for them. I would think that kind of exclusionary torture that people put biracial people through must have some kind of detrimental effect on a person's outlook.

    I'm not an Obama supporter, but I feel sorry for him that both sides aren't doing him any favors. He's both black and white and should be accepted into both circles.
  • CurleeDSTCurleeDST Posts: 467Registered Users
    Are you serious?
    susancnw wrote: »
    This has been bothering me for a while.

    He's not black, he is biracial. His mother is a white American, his father is a black Kenyan. Why does this make him black? He had a middle class white upbringing and, according to his own autobiography, he didn't attempt to explore his 'blackness' until he was in his late teens and afterwards. (seriously paraphrasing). He is married to a black woman, and probably involved in her family also. Great.

    I've read articles about him in UK papers and they refer to him as biracial. Most papers around the world do.

    So, why is he 'black'?
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  • yagottaloveyacurlsyagottaloveyacurls Posts: 5,766Registered Users
    Myradella3 wrote: »
    susancnw wrote: »

    Didn't know that...I've not filled out the race or ethnic part since it became optional. Don't see why it matters in most situations.


    So if it doesn't matter, why has it been 'bothering' you for some time which race he says he is?

    Why mention if he's taupe or beige or gray (as one poster on another board said) at all?

    What color was Reagan and did that enter into any political discussions in 1976 or 1980?

    Yeah, I was wondering the same thing....
  • Myradella3Myradella3 Posts: 2,481Registered Users
    She doesn't respond if she's challenged to support a comment. I think she thinks we're attacking her or her values to ask why. I don't think I'm doing that but it appears that that's the case.
  • rainshowerrainshower Posts: 4,420Registered Users
    he looks black. he identifies with black. i call him black.

    though i agree, dark beige seems more accurate a hue. :)

    i respect that people like to include all of their racial make-ups in how they describe themselves. but if at face value, you don't appear to be anything other than a prodimant race, that's the race i'll be thinking of when i see you.

    i was recently watching a documentary about being black in america and saw a clip about a black woman, her white husband, and their biracial son. now, their son at face value did not look remotely black to me. he didn't look like a light skinned black person. he looked mediterranean/greek, from hair to facial features. i didn't see mama in any part of his face. and if most people passed him on the street, i'd imagine that they'd think he was a foreigner, as he also didn't have a "white" look to his face either.
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  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
    Myradella3 wrote: »
    She doesn't respond if she's challenged to support a comment. I think she thinks we're attacking her or her values to ask why. I don't think I'm doing that but it appears that that's the case.

    I haven't been back here for a while...not avoiding the issue. I am honestly trying to figure out why it seemed to matter to people. Race has nothing to do with it for me...
    My son wears combat boots (and a parachute). So does my son-in-law.
    The older I get, the less patience I have with cleverness. Thomas Sowell.
    Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. Benjamin Franklin.
    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain.

    s-event.png

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