So, what color IS Obama?

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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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.

So, why is he 'black'?
Why does it matter?
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Haha! This discussion was covered at the end of this thread: Not to be negative, but have you heard about...

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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So, why is he 'black'?
Why does it matter?
Originally Posted by MichelleBFT
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.
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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.



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?
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?
Originally Posted by Myradella3
Really? I didn't know this. Very interesting.
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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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.
Originally Posted by Nappy_curly_crown
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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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.
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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.
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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I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
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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I agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
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.>
Originally Posted by godgivenperm
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 agree with Michelle. Why exactly does it matter to you?
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
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.>
Originally Posted by godgivenperm
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.
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
Very nice post! You hit the nail on the head!
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Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain?
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
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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Are you accusing him of "playing up" his Hispanic side just for political gain?
Originally Posted by CurlyMireya
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.
Originally Posted by godgivenperm
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).
He looks like the color of an American President to me.
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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 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?
Originally Posted by Myradella3
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).
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.




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.
Originally Posted by susancnw

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?

Last edited by Myradella3; 07-20-2008 at 09:17 PM.

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