Obama's 2010 Census racial identification
Race, a subject that too often dominates both public and private conversation, is getting a strong run from our Readers Who Comment this morning as they debate an op-ed from Elizabeth Chang, who criticizes President Obama for identifying himself on the census form as black instead of "some other race."
The comment string has been growing rapidly since the file was posted, and while many disagree with Chang, she also has her supporters. Several posts note that U.S. history includes a number of Southern states adopting the so-called "one-drop rule," which classified as black an individual with any African ancestry. The discussion seems particularly pertinent right now with the new Arizona law that targets people who look like they might be illegals, whatever that means.
As Chang writes, "Despite being raised by a white mother and white grandparents, despite have spent most of his childhood in the rainbow state of Hawaii, despite clearly being comfortable in almost any type of crowd (though I suppose Tea Partyers might give him pause), the president apparently considers himself only black." She notes she is "the mother of biracial children (Asian/Caucasian) and believe that multiracial people need to be accepted and acknowledged -- even celebrated."
We'll start with ansupe, who wrote, "...Ms. Chang is being hypocritical when she says that President Obama should not consider himself black simply because that's how society views him - she is insisting he identify as biracial because that's how she WANTS society to view him, or at least because that's how she views him. While she may feel that society would be better off if more people identified as multiracial, that's her opinion and it's not her place to impose it on others."
But johne37179 said, "...I think this editorial strikes a chord. There is no doubt that we all see the world through racist eyes. It is every bit as racist to vote for a candidate because of race as it is to vote against the candidate for the same reason. We won't get past our racial prejudice until we move beyond racial identities and start identifying ourselves first as all members of the same race -- human."
ujamaa1 wrote, "I am glad that Elizabeth Chang's children can make the choices they value on the 2010 census but I found her comments condescending and a bit arrogant. I am African-American and like a significant percentage of African-Americans,I have white ancestors-possibly more than the President. But I am African American and totally identify with the black experience. I would hope she would respect my choice and the President's choice."
Cdgaman said, "...when Rev. Wright showed outright hatred for all white people, Obama said (1) we must understand he comes from the old school and we should be considerate of the man's hatreds because they were earned and (2) I'm different - I'm post-racial. A "post-racial" person would not believe in the old America of Jim Crow where one drop of African blood made you a black man. A post-racial American would acknowledge his white heritage as well as his black heritage, both with equal pride...."
Akinoluna wrote, "I agree with you. I appear to be white but I am half-Mexican and at every opportunity I check both the "white" box AND the "Latino/Mexican" box. I don't care if I'm white as a ghost, it doesn't make me less Latina than someone whose skin is dark enough that people consider them Latina upon seeing them. Obama did himself, his white family, his biracial family, and other biracial people a giant disservice by jumping on the "must fit into certain racial box" bandwagon."
But forcewinder asked, "what should he identify as? He can do whatever he wants. Plus if he didn't it would probably start some controversy about him not being black enough."
And lewfournier1 wondered, "Is there nothing the president does that escapes criticism?"
mykaladrian wrote, "Ms. Chang: your position is admirable, but I remind you of this country's long standing "one drop" rule- one drop of African or black blood qualified a citizen as black."
dc13 wrote, "...People have treated Obama as if he were Black since his infancy. That's the legacy of the one drop rule. Neither Obama, nor his mother or white grandparents chose to have others treat Obama as if he were black. IT has much more to do with history than a personal decision by Obama. If Obama chose to label himself biracial that would not stop tea-partiers from portraying him as a witch doctor with distorted black features. That's not to say you or your children can label themselves as biracial, but don't take Obama and people like him to task for the way others treat them."
dateacher said, "This is not a matter of self-identification. The census (whether necessary or not) needs to be able to understand the racial make-up of this country. I am disappointed that Obama didn't choose biracial because that is what he is. AS others said, he embraced his white family when it suited him for all the white votes. Saying he is African-American on a confidential form shows how he truly feels. And by the way, I voted for him."
alisaoh wrote, "...I am proud of the fact that the President had the option to decide what he defined himself as. We are a nation of personal freedoms, choices, what have you... In other words, I am what I am and I will say what I will say, and there is nothing you can do about that."
asja said, "Sorry but your rant is misplaced. It's deeply personal how someone sees himself and anyone who makes politics out of it would make politics out of other choices the president makes that are none of anyone's business. Mr. Obama is the head of a black nuclear family, a black household, period. Leave him alone on this, will you?"
ADP711 wrote, "well said! obama is as white as he is black. its almost as if we still have a 'one drop' rule on this. tiger woods is seen as black too, when he is as much if not more asian. and yes, the form has to be accurate otherwise it is pointless."
jerry_k said, "Whatever boxes you check are wrong in some way because the whole concept of race is unscientific and riddled with contradictions. Eventually we may get past this silly and tragic way of classifying human beings."
fzdybel wrote, "Just imagine the howling if Obama had checked 'White.' "
rcvinson64 said, "Census data is private. His fault was revealing how he filled it out. He should have just made it known that he did complete and mail in his census form and encourage others to do the same. MYOB: mind your own business applies here."
To which theduke89 replied, "When you are a politician, nothing is really private. The liberals have dictated that that is how it should be."
We'll close with andrew23boyle, who wrote, "...We need to demand this rejection of the concept of race by our leaders, our governments and our laws. But most of all, we must reject these concepts of race ourselves and refuse to pigeon-hole others into arbitrary groupings based on skin color or to tolerate others doing so, even when those others purport to have the "minority's" best interest in mind: they are only perpetuating racism by insisting on emphasizing race. I blows my mind that we are still having these kind of discussions in 2009. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Let's grow up a little bit, America."
All comments on this article are here.
Posted by: padpowell | April 30, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | April 30, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | April 30, 2010 2:53 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.