Saturday, November 08, 2008

Black

One thing you may have noticed about me is that I don't really like to share my opinion on anything that could be considered controversial. Part of this is a natural dislike of conflict, part is related to my anthropological leanings and my ability to understand, or at the very least allow, points of view other than my own, and part is related to the fact that I can't stand people trying to persuade me to their point of view and would rather just shut up and let them think whatever they want to think without bugging me about it.

But as my son grows older, I feel that I have to be bolder. I have to start voicing my opinion in meaningful ways, not letting things slide, because I don't want him to grow up absorbing all the messages I don't believe in, or worse, thinking that those are things that I do believe.

So I have a few things to say about recent political events and what people have been saying about them. My comments will be political in some ways, but you can be assured that even when I do share them, it's not going to be a bunch of party-line b.s. or hating on certain groups. Regardless of what you think of the recent events in a Democrat or Republican way, there are some things that have been said about Obama lately that deeply trouble me. Again, not because he's a liberal Democrat. So tonight I'd like to address the first issue I have: people saying Obama is "not really black" or "not very black" or what-have-you.

This is seriously offensive, people. If Obama had a family tree that consisted solely of Kenyans, he would not be any more black. To argue the extent of his blackness is to be racist. Blackness is not about pedigree. It is a social issue, a way people look at you and treat you, a piece of a person's existence that colors their perception and experiences in a certain way. It also does not matter if you have Muslim relatives or not (another argument I've heard--"he's not black, he's Muslim")--being Muslim and being black are not mutually exclusive. Nor are Cuban and black, Brazilian and black, English and black...Neither is being Kenyan and being white, for that matter.

Barack Obama grew up black. It is petty and uneducated to suggest that because of how white folks living in small-town America who have very little contact with any black people perceive his parentage, he doesn't count as a black person. Read this or this and then tell me you can still believe that he doesn't know what it's like to be black because his mother was white, or whatever argument you want to use that doesn't make any sense to me.

If this is your opinion, I suggest you read a few books about race. Better yet, read books by black people that talk about their experience of being black. Or meet black people, and treat them like you treat non-black people, and learn about their lives. Or just keep your mouth shut, especially when you're around my son.

Just a thought.

3 Comments:

At 10:54 PM, Blogger rach cortest said...

I agree with every single word, mi amiga, rachel

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Jerilyn said...

Awesome!

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Aidan&Peytons Mama said...

Well said!

 

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