Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is Barack Obama black enough?

Of all the inane arguments to be bringing up in this day and age - especially since we have allegedly moved on from our racist past - is the issue of whether Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama is "black enough" to represent the interests of the black community. This question is asked because Obama is what is referred to as "mixed heritage"; that is, he has one black parent and one white parent.

I'll say this: If Obama had lived in the ante-bellum South, he would have been TOO black. I'll also ask this: What exactly was Dr. Martin Luther King talking about when he said the following in his famous I Have a Dream speech?

" I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. "

The line above embodies the very gist of Dr. King's hope of our nation one day rising above skin color, which was necessary to bring up at that time because of all that blacks had endured in this country. So in light of this, why is Obama's skin color still something that he has to explain, much less defend?

Part of the reason is that his critics don't feel that he experienced the "African-American" experience of growing up black in the U.S. This is what I say: His father is African. His mother is American. Thus, Obama is "African-American" in a way that even his critics aren't. But such labels goes against what Dr. King had wanted. I can't see Dr. King bringing up such criticisms - that's not what he was about.

Another way to highlight the short-sightedness of asking if Obama is black enough is to see it this way. What if Obama was a Republican, and the GOP was asking if Obama is white enough to run for office? After all, whites are the majority in this country; so would white America be willing to elect a candidate who was only half white? Can you imagine the uproar that asking such a question would raise? So if it's wrong in that instance, what makes it right in the opposite instance?

My last point on this issue is to state this: I won't be voting for Barack Obama. It's not because he's not black enough, or too black, or not white enough, or too white. Rather, I won't be voting for him because I don't agree with the stands that he's made so far. And I would disagree with them regardless of whether he's "mixed heritage", or fully black or fully white or whatever labels one wants to stick on him. I wouldn't vote for him even if he was Hispanic.

In other words, his skin color has nothing to do with it. And in truth, the skin color of the candidate shouldn't mean a thing for ANY candidate. It's not what's on the outside that makes a man or woman a good president, it's what's on the inside - the content of his or her character, in other words.

That's what Dr. King had spoken about, and that's what we should be applying today to all candidates for office. So be a part of Dr. King's dream and vote the way he would have wanted you to vote: by the content of their character.

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