Why is Obama black?

If my father’s black and my mum’s white, why am I black? Is black such a ‘sticky’ quality that you’re black until three-quarters of your ancestors are white? Sure, it used to be – in the days when any slave ancestry meant you were a slave or at least barred from marrying anyone ‘white’, and when you got called a ‘quadroon’ or an ‘octoroon’ – sounds like some kind of biscuit.  But now?

And – why are white people called ‘white’ anyway? A piece of paper is white. Snow is white. But white people? They’re…pinkish, usually.  So why are they called white? Is it because white is a colour with certain moral qualities (purity, goodness) attached to it, just as black (sin, darkness) is, and so white people claim it in order to associate themselves with those qualities – as opposed to the qualities associated with the colour black and therefore with ‘black’ (usually sort of brownish) people?

And why oh why does anyone pay any attention to what damn colour people are anyway?

(for a serious treatment of the subject..sort of…see Time, Is Obama Black Enough?)

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7 comments

  1. Honey … i’m orange. Really. I eat so many carrots my feet are getting orange. Same with my fingertips. Yes, i admit … i am freakish. And i LIKE it! oxoxo m

  2. “And – why are white people called ‘white’ anyway? A piece of paper is white. Snow is white. But white people? They’re…pinkish, usually. So why are they called white? ”

    The same reason why they call Brown people “Black”….

  3. I’ve ALWAYS wondered this too; but then I could turn around and say that then nobody is what we say they are-every single person on this planet is technically biracial-so technically the only “category” that should exist is “mixed”. To answer your question of why we pay attention to race: well aside from it being a social construct, I think it’s hard not to notice someones race-it’s as obvious as noticing someones sex. A person would be lying if they told me it didn’t cross their mind that I was a woman when they first met me-of course that registered in your mind, that is what I am-it’s natural. The problem? Well the problem is when you start to pass judgment based on these physical attributes. Thanks for the post! 😀

    • Yeah, I agree with you, that IS the problem. And maybe not just pass judgement, but act. There are plenty of people who have various prejudices but never do a thing about them and never would – I guess you can’t tell people what they should think, only what they should do (or, well, not do).

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