Why Obama is Black, not White
PHILIP OCHIENG in The East African Magazine giving an African perspective on the preoccupation of some with Barack Obama's race. Worth going to source page to read the full piece.
WHY IS THE WHITE MEDIA SO preoccupied with Barack Obama’s race? Is it because the young Illinois senator could become the first black person to be elected president of a predominantly white country? If so, then it is a sad commentary on white psychology.
In the 1970s, the Anglo-American media showed little or no interest when an African country elected a white man as its president. To be sure, the Seychelles is as multiracial as the United States. But make no mistake about it. It is a black country.
Albert Rene is a Caucasian of French extraction — the Indian Ocean archipelago having once been a French colony. Yet his racial category did not bother the voters. They chose him only because, at heart, he was more African than most members of the OAU heads of state summit.
Detractors see nothing but racism in the excitement over Obama’s blackness. The white West seems electrified that the scion of an adventurous “tribesman” from deep inside the Dark Continent may become the most powerful man in a white-dominated world.
The question is: Is Obama a black man? There are, of course, two ways of answering that question — first by his attitude and then by his skin colour. Looking at how he habitually responds to social cues, some of his fellow black Americans are tempted to dismiss him as an Uncle Tom.
An Uncle Tom is the American equivalent of our Afro-Saxons — jet-black individuals so mesmerised by white bourgeois values that they fawn shamelessly on any white person they meet.
But, evidently, Obama is not an Uncle Tom. Therefore, we must say that, if he is black, it is only on the surface — that is, skin deep. Most people do not see how strange that statement is. By what figment of the imagination can Senator Barack Obama be called black even on the evidence of skin?
In my reading, I have met only one person struck by this absurdity. Indeed, Richard Dawkins, the outspoken Oxford evolutionary biologist, is germane here because he shares something vital with Barack Obama Senior and myself: All three of us were born in Kenya many decades ago.