Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World?

Insensitive statements by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) not only infuriates many, but also raises one titillating question: Why isn’t President Obama considered white? Obama’s mother is white, and his father is black. He relates more to his white side of the family given his father left him as a child. Hence, isn’t it logical to think Obama is more white than black? Let’s see if we can change Obama’s default setting to the world.

THREE SUGGESTIONS AS TO WHY

1) “He doesn’t look white.”

Well, what does “white” look like? Yes, Obama doesn’t look like a Norwegian Viking, but you can still tell he’s mixed. Since when does being half black mean that he’s full black?  If a white person is only supposed to look like Tiger Wood’s wife Elin, then we need to revise what the definition of white is.

2) The media needs something unique to sell.

Saying the first black man wins the Presidency is more eye-catching than saying another rich white man wins. Mitt Romney, with his hundreds of millions would fit right in with the Clintons, Bushes, and Cheneys. However, since we’ve already had 43 Presidents who all look the same, it’s more exciting to have someone new. Everybody loves an underdog story, and Obama’s story is no different.

3) We’re all racist and we don’t even know it.

Senator Harry Reed is unable to see Obama as a white man because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of what a white man should look like. Harry can’t help his racist condition because he was born in 1939. Segregation didn’t end until 1954, so Harry had a good 15+ years of brainwashing to think he’s unjustly superior due to his skin color. Try as Harry may, he’s been influenced far too long to change.  Obama, watch out what Harry says about you behind closed doors!

CONCLUSION – WE SEE WHAT WE WANT TO SEE

The definition of the word majority, is simply more than the minority.  Since the majority of Americans are white, we can conclude that white America has the majority say in shaping our perceptions, especially in the past. 

But, what about tomorrow? Ethnic cultures are mixing at a rapid pace. Are white folks endangered of stereotyping themselves out of existence? That answer depends on whether we can abolish thinking between just white and black. What about Asians, Latinos, and Mixed? If we can include other races, and multi-cultural groups into the main stream, we have a chance of being more balanced.

The better Obama does, the more he will be embraced by his two ethnicities. If it so happens Obama becomes the greatest President in history and finds a cure for cancer while he’s at it, how do you think perceptions will change? In essence, we see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear. Our biases are so deeply rooted that it takes a mental nuclear bomb to go off before we realize our prejudices.

Just like politicians, the mass media will eventually be influenced by big business. Once the target demographic with the most amount of money is identified, news and opinions will cater towards their cause. Your mission if you choose to accept, is to open your mind and start embracing diversity! Don’t become another Harry Reid decades from now!

****

Famous People Who Aren’t Considered Asian Even Though They’re Half Asian: Dean Cain, Rob Schneider, Vanessa Hudgens, Tiger Woods, Keanu Reeves, Carmen Elektra, Phoebe Cates, and Lou Diamond Philips.

Famous Folks Who Aren’t Considered White Even Though They’re Half White: Booker T. Washington, Bob Marley, Mariah Carey, Thandie Newton, Alicia Keys, Derek Jeter, and Lenny Kravitz.

Readers, why do you think Obama isn’t considered white?

If you’re not white or black, do you feel left out?

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Simple in France says

    Interesting topic and completely creepy picture of the blond Obama. I have a couple of theories.

    First off–in France, Obama is not described as the US’s first black president but the US’s first bi-racial president. Something to consider–France is hardly free from racism and they have their share of weird racial categories (just ask certain French folks what an Arab is).

    I think seeing someone as ‘black’ comes from the US’s historical issues with slavery followed by heavy-handed descrimination. Mixed-race babies during the time of slavery were still considered slaves. Back in the post civil war days, people who we’d probably consider biracial used to ‘pass’ for white because it allowed them so much more freedom–They were considered black if they had any African ancestry at all–even if they appeared so ‘white’ as to go unnoticed. In fact, women were often ‘outed’ as being black when they had children that looked black–what a crazy world huh? A great book (fiction) that discusses the ‘passing’ phenomenon is Passing by Nella Larsen.

    As for Harry Reid’s comments: isn’t it interesting the difference between what people will say in private conversation as opposed to public conversation?
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Pinching Pennies, Indulging in Luxuries =-.

    • admin says

      Great perspective! That’s great Obama is considered US’s first b-racial president. What about all the white folks in America who think Obama is white? Or what about the b-racial folks who think Obama is bi-racial which he is? It would be great if Obama could embrace his entire heritage more.

      I’m SURE Harry Reid has said much more damning things behind closed doors than what got out.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Are President Obama And The Democrats Against Charity? =-.

      • Valentina says

        On the eve of your last election (I am Canadian), I was chatting with
        someone in the State of Washington. I asked her what she thought the
        result was going to be. I’ll never forget her words:

        “I think tonight we are going to make history. But you know, he IS
        half white … ” which came across as being very strange to me, as if
        it’s OK, because he is not pure black???!!!
        .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Wonder Wheel – Great Tool for Cluster Blog Posting =-.

  2. fredct says

    I think he identifies personally as black because of his experiences and upbringing. Is it not really each persons personal call on how they see themselves? And should the media not respect that?

    • admin says

      That’s my point. He grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii with his white mother, and no father. It’s the media and his surroundings who’ve convinced him that he’s black from his early childhood. I say he should embrace both, especially since his mother raised him.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Wealth Is An Illusion Of Happiness =-.

      • Flee says

        Food for thought, When people find out someone is bi/multi-racial why do people all of a sudden say things like, “did you know so n’ so was (fill in the minority) and refer to them as that minority from that point forward? Why is it that when people want to feel better about associating with a person of color they suddenly become “mixed” or only “half”(fill in the minority)? What is the basis for claiming bi/multi-racial, physical appearance? That is problematic and divisive. There a whole lot of people that are of mixed race in the world, but one race may be more dominate in physical appearance, so they don’t get to claim their heritage because they don’t look like it…hmmm?!
        This a prime example of the kind of stuff people of color have to deal with, I’ve watch several interviews with Obama where he has clearly stating that he proud of both cultures and that it was to “world” that told him he was black. As a mixed person myself, I know I only have two choice. I could either identify as bi-racial or black, but never white. I have the “stereotypical bi-racial look” and have been referred to as “black” on numerous occasions by all races. This subject is way more complicate than you have demonstrated understanding. You make a very good point about prejudices. I noticed that you’ve made a point at least twice to note how the black parent was not presence in the examples you mentioned… pause for thought. Another interesting statement you made is that people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. How have you managed to miss all the times Obama has clearly stated his pride in his multi-cultural upbringing?
        As a bi-racial person I should be able to identify in the way I choose. I am very proud of my bi-racial heritage, but like Obama, the world has told me numerous times “I’m black” and the world has tried to use my bi-racial heritage as a tool for divisiveness and I ain’t having it!

        Review the historic videos for the “One drop rule and Willie Lynch Letter”.
        Race is a social construct.

        Why can’t people just relate to other people on character and merit?
        Thanks for opening up a dialogue on this subject Sam. These conversations are important for progress!

  3. Little House says

    Maybe he considers himself more black than white because of the decade he grew up in. During the 70′s there was a “black is beautiful” movement, if he was feeling judged or pressured as a youth that he wasn’t white (especially during the 60′s and early 70′s), then it was probably easier for him to say that he’s black. Whatever you define yourself as when you’re young, sticks with you for life.

    In my experience now, I listen to my students talk about their ethnicity. Many of them are more than one (perhaps Hispanic and Asian, or White and Hispanic, etc.), it’s gives me a little insight into the way we will look at race and ethnicity in the future. They feel they are more than just one ethnicity and are comfortable with that. I think that future census forms will have two or more ethnicities checked off.
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Yakezie Round-Up….and Great Reads =-.

  4. Nick says

    1) See the One-Drop Rule from the Jim Crow days. It said if you had one drop of negro blood, you were a negro. I’m sure that mentality still holds sway.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule

    2) A more modern take is that Obama identifies as black, so the American people respect him for it. He writes about it in his books. I think if he wanted to identify himself as a mixed-race person, the media would probably oblige. Maybe even Fox News!

    3) Whiteness is a tricky subject. Did you know that on the census, Arabs are considered white? There have been times when Italians, Irish, and Jewish Americans were NOT considered white, mainly when they were large immigrant populations.

  5. Aaron @ Clarifinancial says

    You’re talking about personal identity vs. social constructs here. Very deep stuff. I think the two interact with each other.

    The thing is, we all have common ancestors and there are no biological distinctions among races – we’re all on the same continuum. “White” people can get sickle cell anemia, for instance. Where society decides to draw lines has to do with perceptions of each society we are in and nothing to do with our DNA.

    And in my view, we shape our identity partly around the way others perceive us, and people perceive us differently depending on how we project our identity.

  6. Larry says

    “If Obama does a phenomenal job for the next 7 years (very debatable currently)”

    Interesting to see how you’ve already re-elected him in 2012, leading me to think that he’s not doing such a bad job now (or not nearly as bad as the Limbaughs, Palins, Becks, Hannitys, Tea Partiers, and such are so confidently proclaiming).

    (I had a friend who decided Obama was the worst president ever, just three weeks after he was inaugurated. I politely suggested he wait perhaps another week before drawing that conclusion. He didn’t seem to get my joke.)

      • Larry says

        No, of course not. How would any one have rated GWB as of 9/10/01, or JFK before the Cuban Missile Crisis? Anti-Obamans can gnash their teeth and rend their garments as much as I like, but barring impeachment, the president we have is the one we will have until January 20, 2013, and he’s bound to face many more challenges and find more opportunities in the 3+ years ahead. That durn Constitution just doesn’t let us recall him any time we (or some of we) feel like it.

    • admin says

      Larry, it’s why I put in parentheses (debatable currently). I used to think Obama was a SHOE-IN for re-election. But after implementing discriminatory practices against the wealthier Americans, while seeing no improvement in the unemployment rate, which hurts the less wealthy Americans… Obama needs to stop ostracizing people and show improvement.

      It’s too early to tell, but chances are, the economy and stock market will be better in 3 years than it is now.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Are President Obama And The Democrats Against Charity? =-.

  7. Evan says

    I would have loved to see how he indentified himself while at Harvard Law.

    I think he does it, because right now in America – call it 25 years or so (NOT always the case) it is ‘cool’ to be from a different subgroup. You see it everywhere from a separate sub-culture surrounding rap to a show about Guidos at the Shore (I am a huge fan of the show btw and to a lesser extent older rap, but not too old).

    If you’re not white or black, do you feel left out?
    - YOU SHOULDN’T LOL – when I filled out my census I think there were 11 different types of South American/Spanish descent and 8 Different types of Asian Descent.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..What is Keyman Insurance? Is Your Business Protected From Death? =-.

    • admin says

      Is it really “cool” to be in a subgroup or minority group? If you’re a minority you have less people to identify with, less mentors and bosses to help you along the way, less of everything simply b/c of the definition of minority.

      Regarding Harvard Law, are you asking this b/c you think he checked “African American” to try and get an edge in the admission process?
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Wealth Is An Illusion Of Happiness =-.

  8. david M says

    I will not answer your question but will ask another.

    Why does the census ask for my race – I’m white but I hate having to answer this question? What should it matter?

    My next question is, when will they stop asking what race people are? At an ever increasing rate, people are marrying across race lines and thus this question will be ludicrous sometime in the not to distant future.

    It’s like asking me my nationality. My answer is American but people what to know from what country my ancestors came from. Well, I’m a mutt (many different european countries) but no matter what, I still don’t know/care what my ancestry is.

    Thanks for letting me rant off topic!

  9. Len Penzo says

    Does it really matter? The fact that anybody tries to classify him as anything other than a non-hyphenated American really bothers me.

    Even though I’ll maintain that the United States of America is the least racist country on the planet, a large faction of American society still loves to box us all into neat and tidy descriptions like African-American, Hispanic, etc. Ironically, it’s usually the ones who like to consider themselves the most “tolerant.” Right.

    The mainstream media loves to break out statistics this way, as if that is really relevant in most instances.

    I completely reject that line of thinking.

    My kids are mixed Italian/Hispanic heritage and when they ask me what they are I tell them they are Americans. Not brown, black, white, Italian, Hispanic. Not Italian-American, not Latino.

    I’m sorry, Sam, but this continued focus on defining people by their skin color and/or heritage is truly pointless at best, and counterproductive at worst.

    We’re Americans.

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Eight Extraordinary Bloggers (and Me): Introducing The Money Mavens Network =-.

    • Powell says

      Len, you must be white, because only a non minority would so easily brush off the topic of race and say “we’re all Americans.” It’s not that simple.

      I’m a minority in America, and yes, we’ve come a long way since segregation and the civil rights movement, but latent racism still exists everywhere. I’m sorry you cannot see it, because you’re blind by it, and it’s not your fault. I see it everyday, from the media, to the police, to the stereotypes abound.

      You sir, are in for a rude awakening as your half Hispanic kids get older. I pray for your kids sake that you actually spend the time to talk about all the various cultures in America, and to educate them that there’s a lot of hate in the world, and to understand where it all comes from.

      Good luck to you.

      • Len Penzo says

        Of course latent racism exists everywhere, sir. We’ll never get rid of it completely.

        I’ve experienced it as a white man in some of the non-white parts
        of Washington DC.

        Despite my experiences there, that doesn’t change or invalidate my POV, sir.

        You are a fool if you believe it will ever be 100% eradicated. But this nation is
        the most tolerant nation on earth.

        I have news for you, sir. There are plenty of black Americans who feel the same
        way I do. So please don’t lecture me on race relations and accuse me of being
        ignorant on the topic simply because I am white.

        I wonder if you see the irony in your opening statement that so brashly
        assumes that only non-minorities “would so easily brush off the topic of race.”

        My kids don’t need your prayers, sir. But I will have them pray for you.

        • Evan says

          Hell Yeah Len! Reading that made me think of a Justice Scalia Quote,

          * “Individuals who have been wronged by unlawful racial discrimination should be made whole; but under our Constitution there can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race. That concept is alien to the Constitution’s focus upon the individual. …To pursue the concept of racial entitlement – even for the most admirable and benign of purposes – is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”

          Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 534 U.S. 103 (1995) (concurring).

          AND
          .-= Evan´s last blog ..What is Keyman Insurance? Is Your Business Protected From Death? =-.

    • admin says

      I hope your kids don’t face discrimination growing up then. But, when they do, you’ll realize why being open to diversity matters!

      One question for you, when someone says “All American boy or All American girl”, what do you think of?

  10. Len Penzo says

    “But, when they do, you’ll realize why being open to diversity matters!”

    Sam, I’m not clear what you are trying to say here.

    Are you arguing that it is better to NOT look at ourselves as Americans, but as black, white, hispanic, asian, etc.?

    Diversity is fine for cuisine. Not so good when trying to build a nation. Just look at Yugoslavia.

    I bet you think I think of a blond-haired blue-eyed boy or girl when I think of an All-American boy or girl. But the God’s honest truth is, I have no preconceived vision in my mind’s eye.

    All the Best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Eight Extraordinary Bloggers (and Me): Introducing The Money Mavens Network =-.

    • admin says

      It’s great to look at ourselves as Australians or Americans. And it’s equally powerful to look at ourselves as Italians, Mexicans, African Americans, Chinese Americans and so forth because our heritage is extremely dear to many of us. When someone like Harry Reid attacks someone’s ethnicity, it’s NOT OK in my book. It shows his ignorance.

      It’s not OK to let things slide and be happy go lucky when someone attacks. Ignorance will lead us to become soul-less Americans.

      Why would you think that I would think you’d say blond-haired, blue-eyed boy or girl?!

  11. Len Penzo says

    There are Harry Reids everywhere, Sam. They are small minority of the 350,000,000 Americans that make up this great country of ours.

    I love my Italian heritage and our holiday customs, as I love the Honeybee’s Hispanic customs. We celebrate our heritages. Heritage should be celebrated! I also love going to the North End of Boston, and Chinatown in SF, and Little Saigon in Southern California!

    But you framed this question in the form of how people see our president. I said I saw him as an American and I thought everybody should see him as such because it is important for the sake of a united nation (notice no capital letters). When it comes to matters of national interest, heritage should take a back seat to our allegiance to the Constitution and country. It’s hard to stand as one nation, when we impose these artificial divisions.

    As for why did I predict what I did, I figured that was the assumption you had when you asked the question. If not, I’m trying to figure out the motive for asking the question considering my stance. :-)
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Eight Extraordinary Bloggers (and Me): Introducing The Money Mavens Network =-.

    • admin says

      I feel bad for the white people and bi-racial people of America who want to identify with Obama, Tiger Woods, Keanu Reeves, Halle Barry, etc, but who can’t b/c these “icons” in our country DON’T embrace their entire make up.

      Interesting answer to my question to your answer to my question. Your answer explains my assumption perfectly actually! Thnx.

      Sam

  12. Darwin's Finance says

    Bravo
    Way to take on another controversial idea in eloquent fashion. I’ll just say I was in Europe in the days leading up the election and on election day and what I found to be astounding was the intense media and subsequent celebration of an election in another country. It was about the same press the election was getting in the US – but in Switzerland and UK! Odd. I don’t know if it was more the notion that most of the world hated Bush or that the “big bad” US was finally doing something “right” in their eyes or that it was a “black” president.

    Back to your original question though – you’ll hear many bi-racial people speak to how they never really fit in or felt accepted by either race, which in some ways, probably gave Obama some additional perspective that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. But from a news item standpoint, it just doesn’t sound as “historic” or sensational to cover the first “bi-racial” president as opposed to the first black president.
    .-= Darwin’s Finance´s last blog ..How to Invest in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn =-.

    • INB says

      There is always that level of interest in the US presidential election in Europe. I’m Irish and can assure you the same coverage existed for the previous elections (since modern news cycles anyway). I don’t know why you’d think it’s odd – Euro news media covers “world” news extensively anyway; US policies can have a large impact over there; and many many Yurpeans are well travelled enough or have business/family in the states to have an interest.

  13. youngandthrifty says

    Hey Sam, I didn’t know that Rob Schneider, Carmen Electra, and Vanessa Hudgens were half asian!! Do you know what “type” of asian =) Is Vanessa Hudgens half phillipino? Dean Cain and Keanu Reeves are smoking hawt =)

    I don’t think Obama is considered white because people want to view him as the first black president of the united states. It’s more glamorous because everyone has been waiting for United States to have the first black president.
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Variable and Fixed, Open and Closed Mortgages =-.

  14. Charlie says

    You bring up a very good topic in this article and I have wondered that myself ever since he started campaigning. I don’t think it’s wrong if someone chooses to label themselves in one racial category if they’re mixed, but I think it’s fantastic to embrace all of your ethnicities and not feel stuck to choose just one. I didn’t realize either that you could pick more than one race on the census.

    I really think that whites are a fading majority in our country. There are more and more stats on the boom of Latinos in our country and how they are having more children that the white population. And more and more interracial babies are being born every day and I think that’s fantastic! We don’t need to be just one ethnicity. What’s more important is to keep our eyes open and stop trying to classify people into rigid racial categories.

  15. Lovingkind says

    @Len Penzo
    “Diversity is fine for cuisine. Not so good when trying to build a nation…” I don’t agree with you on “diversity is fine for cuisine” only, but I think you meant well when you said “not so good when trying to build a nation.

    I asked myself, would Obama be able to consider himself white, or be considered white, when he was growing up in the early 60′s? I also tend to think his mother had done a good job in bring him up when I got to know her a little more. She might have also taught him to acknowledge (and respect) his african heritage…

    I remember reading an excellent article on bi-racial by Lucinda Roy, a Virginia Tech professor, about her own personal experiences. It was very enlightening! I thought it was published in Washington Post (or USA Today) around 7/28/2009. Too bad, I couldn’t find the article and therefore can’t share it with our readers.

    • Len Penzo says

      Lovingkind,

      Just to be clear, I didn’t include the word “only” when I made my point about diversity being fine for cuisine. That was your assumption. If I had more time I could have included other instances, but I didn’t. :-)

      Best,

      Len
      Len Penzo dot Com

    • admin says

      Lovingkind, you make a great point. Forget about whether Obama could consider himself white in the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, or 90′s. If Obama wanted to consider himself white right now, do you think the media and the world would accept him as the 44th black President? Or at most, would everybody say he’s the 44th bi-racial President? B/c if so, that’s a double standard, as many consider him the 44th black President.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Are President Obama And The Democrats Against Charity? =-.

  16. ctreit says

    I wonder what the racial composition of the people is who commented on this post. It is probably overwhelmingly white. Whites have been writing the rules. So, let us now just agree that Obama should identify with both races – “gosh darn”. Or as a novel idea, how about we allow him to make the decision based on his life’s experiences?

    On a different note, I think it is big of him to have married a black woman. Black women have a hard time finding a good black spouse because of the mass incarceration of black males according to this article in the Economist: http://www.economist.com/world/united-states/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15867956 Black women probably also have a hard time finding a white spouse but for different reasons.

  17. Kristine says

    Nothing like a good discussion on race to spark some conversation. :)

    I think Obama identifies himself as black because it is more resourceful for him to do so. It serves his purposes better than if he we were to say he was white. But then again, if he identified himself as white, we’d still be having the same conversation.

  18. Lovingkind says

    What about tomorrow? “Ethnic cultures are mixing at a rapid pace… that answer depends on whether we can abolish thinking between just white and black.”

    You can be assured that Americans won’t think between just white and black in the future. We all learn. And the diversity of this country gives us a great opportunity to learn, learn other cultures’ values.

    I don’t think Obama will ever identify himself white and the media or the world will ever say he is white. He happens to be the first president who doesn’t have both parents white.

    When I hear “All American Girls” or “All American Boys”, I think of the role model American girls and boys!

  19. EricW says

    With bi-racial people it’s never about what they consider themselves to be, it’s about how they have been treated by others their entire life. Obama is mixed, but he grew up his entire life being treated like a black man. After all those years of being treated one way, you can’t all of a sudden say, “Hey why do you consider yourself to be black when you are obviously mixed.”

    • admin says

      Which presents the question, why did people treat Obama as a black person growing up, when he’s half white? Why wasn’t he treated as a white person instead? These are the mysteries I’m trying to understand given he’s 50/50, and can go either way.

    • Kevin@OutOfYourRut says

      Eric, I think you hit the nail on the head. Being half white in a majority white country, the majority will always see him as “black”. That’s probably where his identity is because that’s the way he’s been viewed.

      What we should all be focusing on, rather than his racial composition, is how he’s doing as president. Whether we agree or disagree with his policies, Obama isn’t behaving like an “African American” president–as some of his detractors asserted prior to the election–but as an American president. That should be encouraging to us all.

      The real racial issue of Obama will be in posterity. What will future generations say about his election? If the day comes that people will look back and see him as a president, and not as a “black” president, America will have made great strides out of an ugly past. I’m not African American myself, but I consider his election to be a shining moment for this country. It will be even more so when the day comes that we’ll look back and not think of it as anything but ordinary.
      .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Advantages of Business Credit Cards =-.

  20. Roger says

    Hunh, interesting subject, as always, FS. Let me give answering them a shot:

    Readers, why do you think Obama isn’t considered white?

    As has been mentioned, there is a tendency in America to associate anyone who isn’t completely white with their non-white ancestory. Part of it is the history of racial relations in this country (as mentioned, there used to be laws defining anyone with the slightest bit of African ancestory as black). In Obama’s case, there’s also the media issue, as you mentioned; running as white (which I don’t think he could have pulled off; maybe bi-racial, but white seems a bit of a stretch) wouldn’t have been very historic.

    If Obama does a phenomenal job for the next 7 years (very debatable currently), will the media change Obama’s ethnicity to suit their business constituents?

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by this. I don’t think that Obama’s performance, bad or good, is going to convince the media to consider him white. If he engages in actions that disappoint the African-American community (or at least, the persons who have taken it upon themselves to claim to speak for said community), you might see more emphasis of ‘Hey, he is bi-racial’. (Of course, that gets into another issue: who’s allowed to decide your race? If the group you associate as decides they don’t want you as member, can they kick you out, or what?)

    Why is there not a bigger uproar against Senator Harry Reid (D) and his remarks? If a Republican said his words, he’d be booted out of the country!

    Partially, I think that it’s because Obama hasn’t made much, if anything out of the comments himself (for reasons we could speculate on but not know for certain). Plus, as mentioned in the link you provided, it was a private conversation where Reid made those remarks, as opposed to on the Senate floor or in a New York Times op-ed (or on, say, a nationally syndicated talk radio show). As for there being a double standard between how Democrats and Republicans are treated, well, if we’re going to start to list all the ways in which the two parties are treated differently by their members, we’ll need a whole new blog!

    • admin says

      @Roger
      I would have admired Obama much more if he had addressed Harry’s insensitive comment more directly and reprimanded him. I know a lot of others would feel the same.

      It amazes me people can consider him black, but people can’t consider him white. At most, it’s bi-racial. That’s ridiculous. If Obama wants to consider himself white, then so be it.

      • Roger says

        Fair enough, FS. Although goodness knows, there’s plenty of situations where both sides of the aisle have overlooked racial or other offensive remarks to keep members of their party around. (Case in point, look at Joe Wilson’s scream of ‘You Lie’, and the GOP’s lack of condemnation, even tacit support by opposed House Democrats in their attempt to reprimand him. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/279249 If it had been a Democrat yelling at former President Bush, would the Republicans have let up a great hue and cry? Neither party has a monopoly on offensive statements, or on (possibly feigned) outrage when those statements are made by someone they oppose.)

        As for Obama, if I remember correctly, he listed himself as black (not biracial or white) on his census form, so apparently he’s fine with considering himself black. As for me, I’m perfectly fine with following his lead and consider him black.

        • Roger says

          True; as mentioned, Reid’s remarks (although deplorable) were made in the course of a private conversation, while ‘You Lie’ was screamed in the middle of an address to the Congress by the President of the United States acting in his official capacity. I don’t condone what Reid said, but frankly, I’d like to see less (feigned) outrage from both sides of the aisle, trying to pounce on every slightly offensive comment made by their opposite numbers. People say stupid things, sometimes without thinking, and it’d be nice to not have every questionable statement turned into a major political issue. But I’ll get off my soapbox; I’ve ranted long enough.

          I have to be honest: you’re the first person I’ve seen making the argument that Obama should be considered white. There’s any number of reasons that Obama’s supporters (myself included) would cite to consider themselves slapped in the face by the Administration so far, from the slow progress on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to the continuation and expansion of the war in Afghanistan, but what race he considers himself hasn’t been raised by anyone I’ve been reading (again, excepting you).

  21. Mike says

    While this article posed an interesting question, I just wonder this. In the general scheme of things does it really matter what race Obama listed himself as on the Census? Does it really matter whether he is perceived as white or black? We put so much emphasis on labels in this country, that who you are seems to get lost in the color of your skin.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..1Cover =-.

  22. Joe Plemon says

    The picture is worth the read! About the race issue, I suppose it may have been my upbringing, but I seldom think about what race anyone is. I don’t think of Obama as white or black. He is simply the President. When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record, some were incensed because a black man broke this hallowed record. But I just didn’t get the hoopla. Hank Aaron is Hank Aaron…period. I am not smugly saying I never have racist thoughts. I probably do. You said our biases are deeply rooted and I know I am not immune. I am just looking forward to a time when ethnicity is not an issue.

    I suppose I am culturally naive, but it never occurred to me that Mariah Carey isn’t white.
    .-= Joe Plemon´s last blog ..Why to Build Wealth…Five Wrong Reasons and One Right One =-.

    • Powell says

      Hi Joe – You don’t think about the race issue, because you are white (at least according to your gravatar). If you’re white in America, it’s very hard to understand what minorities go through. There are all these little things here and there which begin to add up over time. People looking at you funny thinking you might rob them, people walking suddenly in a different trajectory, people asking you when you are on a cruise ship if you can get them some water when you are a vacationer yourself!

      I’m impressed you think Mariah Carey is white. That’s fascinating because most people would think she’s hispanic or black.

      Powell
      .-= Powell´s last blog ..Marc Lipsitch catches the flu in action =-.

  23. Rick says

    @Roger
    I would have admired Obama much more if he had addressed Harry’s insensitive comment more directly and reprimanded him. I know a lot of others would feel the same.

    It amazes me people can consider him black, but people can’t consider him white. At most, it’s bi-racial. That’s ridiculous. If Obama wants to consider himself white, then so be it.

  24. Papa Boomer says

    Really good perspective. Obama doesn’t want to be considered white. It’s worth many more votes to be considered the black underdog. 92% of all blacks voted for Obama last election, most of them because they considered him black. That is far more racist than 6% of white people wouldn’t vote for him because he was black!

  25. Valentina says

    Always good to come here … there is no shortage of stimulation both from the post topics and the responses.

    Three Points:

    One: I think that it is the predominant color that takes precedence and I hate to use such a cliched example but I think it demonstrates what I mean best: Take a particularly dark chocolate milk, dilute it with half regular white milk, to all appearances it is still chocolate milk albeit a much paler shade. I don’t know at what point it becomes “white” milk – when the color is beige or champagne?

    Two: First Nation Artists. Up here in British Columbia, Canada we have several world class artists who work mostly in wood, stone or metal media. In practically every case one of their parents is white, yet they are known as native, first nation, aboriginal etc., anything but white. One of the most famous is Bill Reid whose father was a Scotsman … but of course Bill Reid is never referred to as a white artist.

    Three: Mixed racial marriages are on the increase. Every so many years the trend watchers put up a composite of the emerging media beauty “face” Increasingly that “face” is not only a mixture of two races, but more, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is in the mix. To our eyes of today these faces appear beautiful in a very exotic way.

    It won’t happen in our lifetime … but maybe sometime in the distant future there will no longer be a white or an asian or black. Think about it, waaaaaay back, the countries flanking the north Mediterranean Sea were white, even blond and blue eyed (think the Romans, the early Greeks and even Spain). The south was flanked byNorth Africa – all black. The slaves of these white countries were more often than not black. Eventually the races mixed and “dark and handsome” became the norm in Italy, Greece and to some extent peoples living on the coast of what once was Yugoslavia This change is particularly noticeable in Spain which was under Moorish rule for 700 years, hence the distinctive darker complexion and facial structure that is different from that of the rest of Europe.
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Super Blogger Reality Show Starts Tonight! =-.

  26. Kae says

    President Obama identifies himself as being black or African American because that is the face he has stared at in the mirror since he could see a reflection. Especially being closer to the “white” side of his family, he was always “different” from them. Why doesn’t my friend who just adopted a precious little girl from Taiwan just ignore that her daughter is different and just call her white? Because it would be foolish! If the president grew up in a home where his differences were never acknowledged, it would be very natural for him to, being aware of those differences, to inflate the importance of those differences. For those who have never had this experience (the experience of being different than nearly everyone around you) I can’t imagine it is easy to
    understand. I am part African American, native American and Irish. I have darkish skin, kinky
    curly hair, dark eyes, etc. By the world standards I am black. Three of my children are blond
    with wavy/ straight hair and blue eyes. By the worlds standards they are white. I think the problem stems with everyone caring so much about which side the president identifies with in the first place and then taking issue with it. Statements like, “I wish he identified more with his white side” seem bazaar to me. Why do you care! What, there haven’t been enough “white” presidents for people to identify with?! I just wish he identified more with being an American!!! I’d be happy with that.

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