A white guy named Barack Hussein Obama

In neither the racial nor post-racial eras surrounding the Obama Presidency has the other side of the story, the white side of Obama’s heritage, ever been controversial. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I’m just saying that somewhere along the way towards America’s supposed reconciliation with its own history of enslaving Africans, it helps to consider how Barack Obama’s other demographics as a white man, interracial man, and even culturally as a Hawiian man, all contribute to his ability to see the evenhandedness of America’s true spirit.

Some read that and immediately think Socialism, but that’s just a Glen Beck knee jerk reaction. When I say even, I mean “smooth”, or “finely blended”, just like an excellent vintage. America is over 230 years old and you’d think we’d have this whole diverse society thing together already. Last report I read has the President’s mom’s side of the family a minority by 2050, so sooner or later we’re all going to have to evolve away from the “hyphenated” self-protectionism in our current cultural mindset.

It’s all about colors and shades in our country. Colors help us define who we are, who we aren’t, who we wish we were, and who we don’t want living in our own neighborhood. America’s original allure to foreigners was, is, and always could be, a refuge from unfairness and discrimination. Fairness and evenness are the same things in my mind.

I have a friend named Julio (and despite the way his name looks, he is not one bit Hispanic or Latino) who once pointed out to me that due to my Hebrew heritage I am not white, I am actually khaki. It makes sense. Julio is Hatian and very dark. If we were two pairs of pants on display at The Gap he’d be a pair of brown corduroys and next to him I’d definitely be khakis.

Throw in another friend of mine named Dave who’s mom is Canadian, from Ontario, and Dave would be the rack of white t-shirts that go really well with either pair of pants. But in many places throughout America, Julio would be watched much more carefully by security than Dave and I while shopping at a clothing store because of color. Really because of the misuse of color. Colors don’t make people do stupid things. People do stupid things with color.

This is why Barack Obama’s personal mixture is so quintessentially American: outwardly and more physically a “black man”, raised by a single white mother and her two old-school white parents, in Hawaii and Indonesia. But go deeper than that and you get to the experiential levels Obama went through as a poor man in New York and Chicago to a rich man in Chicago, and ultimately  the Leader of the Free World. Does anyone really think he has a bias towards anyone? Rich or poor? Black or white? Urban or rural? Muslim or Christian? User or abstainer? Traditional or progressive? The insured or the uninsured? Male or female? And I know he’s tight with the Jews too because he’s got Axe and Rahm at his side.

Racial bias plays no role in my moral life, but since it plays an enormous role in my society I am forced to confront it and deal with it. I do think that America has embraced a post-racial society ideal, but we just don’t know it yet. Another generation will need to die off before we really lose that tactile connection to our hateful heritage. But Barack Obama is a major bookmark in our historical record that we will always be able to point to. And someone we needed right now.

Not just because he is a black man. Because he is all men, women, peoples, economics, privileges, bias, and because yes he is a white dude too.


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2 Responses to “A white guy named Barack Hussein Obama”

  1. Lyndsey Whigum Says:

    Though I would’ve loved it much more if you added a relevant video or at least pictures to back up the explanation, I still thought that your write-up quite helpful. It’s usually hard to make a complicated matter seem very easy. I enjoy your weblog and will sign up to your feed so I will not miss anything. Fantastic content

  2. votingmad Says:

    Thank you so much Lyndsey! Sometimes I add links, pictures and video. All depends on what I can find. I appreciate your readership.

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