However, unlike previous black presidential candidates, Mr Obama was not part of the civil rights movement, which correspondents say makes some African-Americans wary of him.
His mixed race heritage - with a white mother from
, and a black father from Kansas - has led some observers to suggest that he is an African and an American, but not an African-American. (BBC: Obama launches Presidential bid) Kenya
If we are being really picky then technically Obama is American-African. His mother is American, he was born in
In her article, Debra Dickerson (probably the BBC’s basis for their supposed ‘observers’) seems to think differently,
‘Black,’ in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves.
Let me get this straight: descendents only from West African slaves are okay by Dickerson. If we are to judge by those standards then so be it, but sadly that means we’re going to have to say bye to those Americans who originated from the 4.6% South-East African slaves; sorry, but you’re not black.
I doubt Dickerson meant to exclude the South-East Africans, but what is 'black' to her doesn't necessarily mean the same for other people; labels are inherently semiotic, and as such can provide multiple meanings. Here's some more of Dickerson's thoughts on the subject:
Lumping us all together (which blacks also do from sloppiness and ignorance, and as a way to dominate the race issue and to force immigrants of African descent to subordinate their preferences to ours) erases th significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance of progress.
I always thought that 'race' was about identification with a group of people? Lumping people together is exactly the point - it's tribal recognition, a defining characteristic that unites a particular group of people. How Dickerson can say this removes the significance of slavery is ridiculous?
I do see Dickerson's point that cultural heritage is important, but hijacking a word and then creating a (quite confusing) criteria of what it means to be black just stifles the situation. If I call myself white, then it is because my skin colour is such - I don't tag any cultural associations to it. And this is the crux: the labelling of African-Americans black stemmed from a skin colour classification.
Perhaps though we should start thinking outside of pigmant, and more like Gary Kamiya in his brilliant article that summed up my thoughts perfectly:
Let me be clear. I am not talking about disavowing one's culture or background, acting "white," or any other external actions. I am simply talking about an inner freedom from a superficial defnition imposed by others.
Obama might not share a cultural link with African-American slaves, but the fact that white Americans could one day vote in a person, irrelevant of their skin colour, is a sure sign of a much needed progress.