Whatever happened to being bi-racial? In the past if a child were half-black, the father was usually white while the mother was black. But over the past 40 years, we have seen more and more cases of the father being black while the mother is white. Of course the “one drop of black blood rule” is easier to accept when the mother is black and her child, no matter how “light, bright and almost white,” is designated as black. Historically, that was due in large part to the child being raised more with the mother’s black family than with the father’s white family.
As more and more children were born to white mothers, there was a flip-flop in the upbringing of a half-black child. Having a white mother meant that the child would most likely spend more time with his or her white side of the family than the black side. Some parents were so strong in their sentiment about their child not having to pick one side of the family over the other that they wanted both racial sides of the family to be acknowledged.
That movement was realized in April, 2000 by the U.S. Census. For the first time in history, that census allowed individuals to pick from a variety of racial categories. Now let’s be honest. The average black person in this country could have a field day acknowledging all the different racial types that comprise us. The majority of us have declared ourselves to be black without pause, although in conversations we will admit to having Indian blood, white blood, etc. as well.
Now fast forward to today where we find our first bi-racial candidate running for president. Barack Obama is as much white as he is black. Yet when it comes to race for him, we only hear about his black side and not about his white background. Sure, everyone knows that Obama’s father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. But when the Clinton campaign is accused of using the “race” card on him, why is it only his black side that comes into question?
Why and how can the Clinton campaign place Obama into the “black candidate” box? That is the strategy they have been employing in the hopes that if they can make Obama seem like a “black candidate,” they can then begin to limit his viability. That strategy seems plausible to someone whose parents were both African-American, but how do you do it to someone whose mother is white?
Every time I hear the snide innuendos that the Clinton campaign has started to deploy against Obama to send subtle messages about race, I always think to myself, “but he’s half-white.”
And the reason I do that is simple: It’s because I resent anything the Clintons throw at Obama in terms of race which leans heavily toward his black side without considering his white side as well. And the question I feel should be thrown back is to which racial side of Obama are they referring?
What it reminds me of is when people divorce and the child has to pick between the mother or father, as if one is the good guy and the other the bad guy. The child wants and needs to embrace both of his parents, while the parents themselves are the ones making it difficult for the child to choose.
Obama, just like that child, can and should feel free to embrace both his white as well as his black side. To place one in a greater position over the other is to deny the other side. That is what being bi-racial is all about.
The black community has opened its arms and embraced Obama with all we have to give. When others want to play the race card, it is up to us, the black community, to ask them in response why they would deny one of their own?