Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Can We All Claim Him?
Of course, I watched hours of Obamarama TV all day long. Of course, I was moved to tears, cheers, and jeers (whenever they showed a shot of the pitiful Mr. Cheney). I am still tingling and swear the sun started shining a little bit brighter after 12:04pm when Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States.
But here is my question? Have you all noticed the media is in the midst of a labeling crisis with our new president? Have you witnessed how they stumble and stammer as the declare him the first er, um, African-American, or is it Black, or Biracial president? I have heard news broadcasters use all three terms but they all appeared pained as if they weren't sure they were saying the right thing.
As a former fact-checker, I feel their pain. How do we refer to President Obama when we are trying to place him in the annals of history? I mean, technically, in the truest sense of the word he is an African-American, dad is from Africa, mom hails from the U.S. of A. But we all know that's not what the label means. Is Black a better option, since Black can and often does encompass all of those people involved in the African Diaspora? Of course, Mixed or biracial is probably the most accurate term and if we weren't speaking of the president of the United States, let's say he was a champion golfer for example, I think we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.
Despite the fact that we've been inter-mixing since the Pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock, I think we are still quite uncomfortable acknowledging the effects. Or are we just too stuck in our old one-drop ways to legitimize the Mixed identity? Of course to you, my Meltingpot readers, this may be a moot point, but the rest of our fellow citizens, as evidenced by our stuttering media, seem to be having a hard time with this.
It is my belief that the person to answer this question is President Obama himself. He should send an executive memo to the press (who will then disseminate the info to the masses) that from now on he wishes to be referred to as, African-American, Black, Biracial, Mixed, African, Hawaiian, Mix-y, Person of Color, HNIC (Head Negro in Charge), whatever. I don't see see it as anyone else's decision, but I do think the issue should be addressed. I'd hate to think Mr. Obama has built an identity for himself that is now being ignored. Maybe he hasn't. Maybe he doesn't care. Maybe I'm making an issue out of nothing.
What do you think?