Thursday, February 15, 2007

Barack Obama is an Authentic African-American

Barack Obama's presidential aspirations have apparently thrown the black community into a tizzy. I suggest this upon reading yet another article on the controversy surrounding Obama's credentials as authentically African-American. Roland Martin, writing in today's Detroit News, adds his views on what he calls the "insidious ritual" of high profile blacks having to prove their credibility by being "down with the brothers and the sisters":

See, you can't just be a Fortune 500 CEO, politician, civil rights activist or journalist who happens to be African American. In order to be fully accepted and embraced, you are required to show your "ghetto card" at the entrance of the black gates of Black America. Otherwise, you are forced to stand outside, proving your worthiness to the masses as if you are a sinner trying to convince Saint Peter that you are good enough to get to heaven.

This may be surprising to many of my white readers, and my black readers may get offended and accuse me of airing our dirty laundry, but this type of silliness has been seen time and time again. And as it relates to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's decision to run for president, some are already demanding that he prove himself to the peeps.
Martin points out that because Obama's father was Kenyan and his mother a white, and because he grew up in Hawaii, his blackness is somehow of questionable pedigree. Martin also raises an interesting point in noting that should Obama win the White House, how many of those currently questioning his race would flock to his side in seeking access in a black presidential administration?

These are likely the same people who screamed with joy when that talented and fine sister, Halle Berry, won the Academy Award. Was she questioned, considering her mom is white and her dad is black...?

We have reached the day when black folks are going to have to quit forcing others to pass a black test to establish their worthiness.

Every black person in America doesn't have a "hood" experience. They all don't have the same story of their father leaving them as a child, having to grow up in a single-parent home in a public housing complex, their brother on welfare and sister twice pregnant by the age of 18. We all didn't belong to the Crips or Bloods and didn't have to fight our way out of the gang in order to go to college. No, we all didn't grow up in the black church, singing "Precious Lord" and memorizing the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We shouldn't assume that every black person had to work three jobs to pay their way through college.

Segregation no longer limits where we live, work and play. So if Jim Crow is dead, why do we allow the system to continue to pervade our minds?

The day has come when we judge a black man or woman for who they are, where they stand on issues and what they believe in. If Obama offers a political agenda that speaks to the needs of African Americans, good. If he chooses to offer one that is broad and more universal, that doesn't make him any less of an African American (truth be told, Obama is more African American than most of us can claim. At least his father hails from the Motherland, while his mom is an American).

There is too much work to be done to raise the collective black community in the areas of education, economics and healthcare. And worrying about whether Obama or anyone else is black enough to do so should not be a part of the dialogue.
This is an excellent commentary. I've blogged previously to the same effect. See my earlier posts, "Black Voters May Not Support Barack Obama" and "Barack Obama Brings Out New Black Nativism." See also my post on Senator Joseph Biden's (politically incorrect) presidential campaign announcement, "The Racial Politics of Articulate Speaking," where he commented on Obama's verbal articulation.

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