Is Barack Obama Finally an American?

The release of the president's birth certificate doesn't erase the understanding among African Americans that he -- and they -- have been deeply disrespected and are still cast as outsiders.

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The idea that Obama "doesn't belong" in the White House is a threat to our sense -- as people of color, as newcomers, as immigrants -- of being legitimate participants in the gorgeous mosaic of America. But it is also dangerous for the president, already the recipient of an unprecedented number of threats against his life.

Remember Rep. Gabrielle Giffords? For a brief moment we hoped that her tragic shooting had reset the civic discourse in this country. A recovering Giffords will be watching her husband soar into space on the last shuttle flight this Friday. If only our hopes for a better America could share that trajectory.

Joel Dreyfuss is The Root's managing editor.

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