Thursday, February 15, 2007

Obama Isn't Black?? Part 1

Originally posted by Nadir at

ObamaLet 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

“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


Blogger Paul Hue said...

Nadir writes: ================
Our ancestors in Africa were called “Black” before they were kidnapped and shipped to the Americas.

This comment confuses me, Nadir. The "kidnappers" in Africa were black themselves, including certainly some of your ancestors. You had ancestors who were kidnapped, for sure, but probably also some black kidnappers. These black kidnappees and kidnappers were calling the Europeans "white", no? Where these people calling the honkies "white" any different than the honkies (including most likely some of your ancestors!) calling the Africans "black"?

And what of the Arabs who -- along with the honkies -- were purchasing the kidnapped Africans from the African kidnappers? Did they, like the honkies, call these Africans "black"?

I don't understand the complaint. Europeans, Arabs, and Africans all practiced slavery against Africans, but as far as I can tell, only Africans performed any kidnapping of these enslaved African. Also, about a million honkies got kidnapped into slavery by northern African Arab muslims.

It seems to me that all three groups included horrible brutes and victims as well; but you seem only interested in the Africans who were victims, and only then if they were victimized by brutes who were honkies.

February 19, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger Nadir said...


You're only confused about this because you're trying to change the point.

No, Africans were not the only kidnappers of Africans during the slave trade, though they did participate. Yes, some of the kidnappers were Black, but others were Arab and European (both of which were called "white" by Black Africans).

The point is not who did the kidnapping, though you enjoy bringing up the fact that Africans participated in our own enslavement. The point is that Africans were called Black during that time even before there were any Africans in the Americas.

Blacks who have been born in America are not the only Africans who are called Black. This comment is meant to refute Dickerson's point, not to confuse you about who kidnapped whom.

February 21, 2007 10:02 AM  

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