He’s Black

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-03-16 23:39Z by Steven

Obama is black, first and foremost because he looks black. That alone triggers all of the reflexive prejudice and animus that define the black experience in the United States. One could engage in a philosophical discussion on the nature of racial identity, personal affinity, culture, etc., but for practical purposes, races are a product of racism and racial habits—not the other way round. And racism is rather crude and simplistic. The typical racist identifies and hates black on sight—he doesn’t care about the complexities of mixed parentage, Ivy League education, or immigration status. And even non-racists reflexively assign people a racial identity on sight. Because race is a social category and not a biological or genetic one, Obama’s mixed parentage does not determine his race. Mixed parentage may influence one’s appearance, and a person whose appearance is racially ambiguous can influence how she is perceived. In such instances, race may be a question of personal affiliation to some extent. And mixed parentage may influence how one chooses to identify. But for the most part, society assigns us our races. At any rate, Obama’s appearance is not ambiguous, and he unquestionably identifies as black.

Richard Thompson Ford, “Chats: Is Obama Black, Bi-racial, or Post-racial?Zócalo Public Square, September 7, 2011. http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/09/07/is-obama-black-bi-racial-or-post-racial/read/chats/

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Chats: Is Obama Black, Bi-racial, or Post-racial?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-16 16:43Z by Steven

Chats: Is Obama Black, Bi-racial, or Post-racial?

Zócalo: Public Square

Five Experts Comment on the Politics of Race

Richard Thompson Ford, George E. Osborne Professor of Law
Stanford University

Michael C. Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science; Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture
University of Chicago

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Professor of Sociology
Duke University

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History
University of California, Berkeley

As the son of a black Kenyan and a white American, President Obama is biracial. As a symbol of our times, he’s also called post-racial. On his census form, he classifies himself as black. Whatever he is, the categories obsess many Americans. So in advance of Randall Kennedy’s visit to Zócalo, we put the question to some leading academics: Is Obama black, bi-racial, or post-racial?…

He’s Black…

…He’s Black, Unfortunately…

…He’s White, Unfortunately…

…He’s Race-neutral, Unfortunately…

…He’s All and None—But Let’s Give It a Rest…

Read the entire article here.

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