Forum Puts Obama's
Heritage in Focus
A day before Barack Obama speaks to the National Association of Black Journalists at their convention in Las Vegas on Friday, a forum will be held to ask a question that annoys the Illinois Senator's wife: is he "black enough?"
A session hosted by Michel Martin of National Public Radio, according to NABJ's program, will grapple with "a question that no one else is confronting. This candidate is Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama, and the question he cannot seem to shake -- is he black enough? Is this an unfair question? What is the measure of blackness and who gets to decide?"
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times published Monday, Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife, said "The truth of the matter is that as I was growing up, talking too proper, going to certain schools, people told me that. We are still struggling as a people with what is black," she said.
"The thing that I worry most about . . . is not what it says about me and Barack," Michelle Obama said. "What does it say to our children? [T]hat somehow Michelle Obama is not black enough? Well, shoot, if I'm not black enough and Barack's not black enough, well who are they supposed to be in this world?
"I did exactly what leaders in my community told me to do. They said do your best in school, work hard, study, get into the best schools you can get into and when you do that, baby, you bring that education back and you work in your communities," she said.
She disputed the notion that Obama's upbringing in Hawaii was much different than hers in Chicago's predominantly black South Side.
"We are not that far apart," she told the Sun-Times. "He was raised in his grandmother's home, and his grandmother is from Kansas, eating tuna with pickles in it. The same conversations that we had around my kitchen table, we have at her house on Christmas. We are not that far apart. It's just that it feels like people have benefitted from us feeling and believing that we are far apart."
"I'm fundamentally a girl from the South Side," Obama said. "I may change the cadence of [my speech], you know if you are home, you're just home, but the stories are the same. I think people want leaders that they can connect to," she said.
The issue of Obama's racial heritage, as the son of a white mother from Kansas and an black father from Kenya, has been much discussed. The writer Debra Dickerson created a firestorm earlier this year when she wrote a piece questioning Obama's racial heritage that included the line "Obama's isn't black."
The question of race and the perception of black politicians not steeped in the Civil Rights Era is not new to Obama. It was a factor during his losing battle to Rep. Bobby Rush, a former
Black Panther, when Obama sought to win Rush's House seat in 2000. Post writer Michael Fletcher detailed that contest and questions about Obama's racial appeal in a piece in January.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
Posted by: burlupus2000 | August 8, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: burlupus2000 | August 8, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: lindafranke1952 | August 7, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: marj.raunig | August 7, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shanay4363 | August 7, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: michaelmelius | August 7, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kappazkupid | August 7, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shanay4363 | August 7, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: shanay4363 | August 7, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: crews2me | August 7, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: paulchacko | August 7, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bokonon_ | August 7, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: wizinit1 | August 7, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.