Originally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com

Let me start by saying that I am not sipping the Barack Obama Kool-Aid. I agree with Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report who calls the junior Senator from Illinois “…an imperialist at heart who offers George Bush at least another year or two to wage war in Iraq, while warning Iraqis that they can expect no more American ‘coddling’”.

But when people like Debra Dickerson say “Obama isn’t Black”, it just confuses the issue.

According to Dickerson’s Jan. 22 article on Salon.com:

“Black,” in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can’t be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won’t bother to make the distinction. They’re both “black” as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally Black, as we use the term.


“Black” refers to skin color. Our ancestors in Africa were called “Black” before they were kidnapped and shipped to the Americas. Therefore, Obama’s Kenyan ancestors were Black.

Perhaps Obama’s cultural upbringing isn’t a typical American “Black” experience because he had a Kenyan immigrant father and was raised by a European mother, but this only makes him “multi-cultural” and/or “bi-racial”. When he goes down south to campaign in South Carolina or Texas, they are still going to call him by the same name many Chicago rappers would use to address him.

No, I don’t mean “brother”.

Culturally, Obama’s upbringing makes him no less “Black” than a descendant of West African slaves who grew up in suburban Iowa or rural Kansas. And perhaps Ms. Dickerson isn’t aware that the culture of Africans in America (Okay. “Black folks”) has spread to Africa with soul music, jazz and hip hop. There may be more cultural similarities among our African brethren than she thinks.

Ms. Dickerson, you don’t have to like Obama, but why in the world would you want to confuse white people (and Black Americans) more than they already are? If you don’t consider yourself African American (which Obama is) or an American of African descent (which Obama is), that’s fine.

But let’s keep the topic away from race. Neither Black folks nor white folks should give Obama a pass because of his skin. Hold his stance on the issues up to the light. That’s when we’ll all see his true colors.

Watch Debra Dickerson confuse the issue and herself on The Colbert Report


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