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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Obama Race Question


















By Rev. Lainie Dowell

To paraphrase Tina Turner, my own question would be to ask Obama, "What's race got ta do with it?!"

In 2008, when we consider the question of who would be the best candidate for the Office of President, do people actually believe Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) deserves to be elected as the first black President in order to prove to the world that America has reconciled her "race problem?" As former President William Jefferson Clinton says, "Give me a break!"


In the past several years, Obama has become known on the national level as the recent epitome of the new black power movement. And he touts himself as a man for all people, because of his multiracial makeup. However, the "right"-thinking people understand that his race is of no consequence to the ongoing press of candidates to occupy the White House.

If that were true about his race, then he could never have advanced as far as he has in the political arena. If his race was the determining factor, as some would have us to believe it is, then he could never have gotten the breaks he did to become a member of the United States Senate.

This is important to note, because he had the press eating out of his hands ever since he delivered his keynote speech during the 2004 Democratic Convention. In the few minutes it took for him to give that message, the news spread far and wide that he could be a viable prospect to run as a candidate for the Office of President in 2008. It seems that, at that time, race was not a factor. And, that was all he needed to begin his trek in that direction, much to the chagrin of his many constituents in Illinois who seemed to have noticed how much his lofty goals were depriving them of his personal attention on the local level.

If the nation had never heard of Sen. Barack Obama before that night in 2004, then they certainly got the opportunity to meet him at that moment. All of his colleagues and the mainstream news media prepared to cheer him on from that moment and they have not disappointed.

The race-color issue came much later, because the fact that Barack Obama had a white mother and an African father that he hardly knew did not deter his run for office as both a Senator in the state of Illinois legislature following an initial failed attempt and, later, during his successful run for the United States Senate.

That race may play any part at all in the 2008 election is the ploy of the Obama campaign itself, as he was billed as the first African-American likely to become the President early on during the Primary campaign. And Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was also billed at that time as the first woman likely to become the President of the United States.

This was a boon for the Democratic Party. They were all ecstatic at the thought of having the first "two-for-the-price-of-one" electoral 2008 race for the White House (i.e., a black man and a white woman).

Then what caused the turnaround to focus on race?

The foremost discussion began in earnest after Obama made the decision to give a speech before the nation on the subject of race. That delivery flung the doors wide open to build up the African-American race as his constituents. And it worked, because the political lines were closely delineated between him and Sen. Hillary Clinton after his speech, which served to push over 90% of the black population throughout the nation into Barack Obama's corner during the 2008 Presidential primary election campaign.

All the nation and the world heard as African-Americans publicly and privately boasted that they were going to finally put a black man into the White House. They left Sen. Clinton behind in droves to follow after Obama.

Many, when asked about it, forthrightly stated they would vote for Obama for no other reason but that Obama was a black man and that they were black. And the white people were left behind still trying to understand what race Obama was. And, even though Obama knew he was -- and is -- a black man living in a multiracial household, he did not do enough to persuade the white people, many of whom still remain confused over who he is and what he stands for. And they are not afraid to say so. Albeit, many of their questions still remain unanswered.

As a group, the majority of the black race understands the old "one-drop" rule, which is to say that if there is one drop of Negro blood in a child, then they are black. Regardless of the color of the skin, whether milky white or coal black, the person can still be legally black, negro, colored, African-American, and all the way back to black. There is really no confusion here. At the same time, because of the many shades among the black relatives, there are many white people who are actually "passing" blacks, themselves. That's nothing new and that may be their personal choice to do so.

However, black mammy's nursed many white babies; and, to this day, blacks have had no problem with taking into their hearth, home, and breast any child or adult of any color. We are family. And, if anybody remains confused about that Obama-race issue, it is most likely the case among those of whatever race that has a vested interest in keeping the races separated and at odds one with another. But, where there is unity, there is the possibility of agreement and the resultant peace.

Regardless, Barack Obama knows who he is and he has stated it in his published autobiographical books and various articles. Therefore, race is one question about him that needs to be put to rest.

To my knowledge, there doesn't seem to be the same kind of racial confusion about his sister, Maya Soetero-Ng. She had the same mother and grandparents as Obama, but her father was Indonesian. But, then again, she is not the one who is presently seeking to become the President of America. Although, I suppose she would likely find difficulty, also, because she was born in Indonesia and is of Indonesian heritage but with a white, American mother. I suppose that issue would have to remain a hypothetical example, unless . . . . ?

Race is a topic best left to genealogists, because this is the testing time for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr.'s visionary pronouncement that there must be the time to "Judge a (person) on the content of their character rather than on the color of their skin."

What we are now looking at and seeing is that it is the character underneath the color of the skin and not the character that is in the skin that counts. This is 2008, and after all of the civil rights marching and crying and living and dying for this cause, all Americans need to get with it. The prolonged concentration of Race has no place in this race.

The place we need to be right now, as a nation, is to consider who would best fit the needs of all Americans at this critical time in history. The matter of race really does not matter and it has never mattered insofar as what Americans have come to expect from the national leadership of the free world - the President of the United States of America.

And, no matter the color, if the character of the candidate has not measured up to the job at hand, then regardless of what or who or how impressive that candidate may be, they just would not measure up for the long run.

Americans need to think about it long and hard.

The generations coming up behind may need to find a place to sit and grow before they presume to take the reins and lead us in ways that we would be unwilling to go as a nation. How many Americans can ever remember when so many foreign nations have blatantly and openly injected themselves into our democratic process and boldly announced the benefits they expected to receive from a particular candidate, such as has been the case with Barack Obama's candidacy?

Even Kenya, Africa; the Islamists; Osama bin Laden; and Hamas have weighed in on his behalf for heaven's sake! But, to be forewarned is to be forearmed this side of the election. For if we wait to respond until we are on the other side of the ballot, it will be much too late.

The one elected to the Office of the President, whoever that may be, must meet the stringent demands of patriotism and stability and must have very broad shoulders to carry the weight of not only this nation but also the world. This is not the time to impress. But it is the time to press. For I still maintain that America deserves no less than the best.

Race or no race -- This is the race that matters the most -- Election 2008. Consider before you pull that lever to vote; and, then, VOTE.

_____________________________________________________
Read a linked article: Obama boasts a dedicated high-powered inner circle. (c) Chicago Tribune, January 14, 2007. Authors: Mike Dorning and Christi Parsons.

1 comment:

B Speeres said...

Great blog...If we spent more time looking at the inward man or woman, and listening to what is really being said, Obama would not be on the ticket and the color of skin would not enter the equation.

Obama is not a leader of a nation, but rather, a charismatic speaker with an expensive suit.

Keeping raising your flag, and I will joyfully support your efforts!

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