The author says:
That comment makes me think about something that has bothered me for a long while--President Obama does not identify himself as biracial. He identifies himself as black. Throughout his presidency, multiracial people have shared their feelings about his choice. Some feel offended, let-down and discouraged. Some argue that his decision to self-identify as black is proof that the "one-drop" rule--that originated in the era of slavery--still thrives today (in other words, if society sees him as a black man, why shouldn't he identify as a black man?)
Here are some opinion pieces that got me thinking even more about the issue:
- An NPR podcast (with transcript available) from 2008 argues that the term "biracial" is too vague for many. "Biracial" could mean Jewish-Korean, Filipino-Mexican, or some other mixture that isn't specific enough for the President.
- An Op-Ed from the LA Times that discusses the fact that Obama's personal history--being raised by his white mother and grandmother--led to him being labeled "not black enough" in Chicago politics. The author speculates that maybe this accusation pushed the President to focus on his black heritage.
- A truthdig piece that tries to tie Loving Day history to current same-sex marriage debates. (The author also mentions another story that has stuck with me: my favorite artist, Jill Scott's comments regarding the pain she feels when she sees interracial couples.)
What about another explanation altogether: what if the extreme pain of bigotry is what caused the President to identify himself as only black? Maybe carrying that kind of pain around makes it hard to empathize with the pain of others.
I don't know what goes on in the mind of our President. I do know that his choice to identify as only one race impacts both black culture and mixed culture.
Is the impact good? bad? indifferent? What do you think?
**Note** After originally posting this, I found yet another article on the same topic. Check out this article by a mixed race gay man, writing about his experience in London. A judge asked him, point blank, to choose whether he is "black" or "mixed race." What's Race Got to Do with Identity? | Same-Sex Couples News - gay & lesbian couples, marriage equality, gay weddings worldwide