Obama and the Elusive Idea of Race
Scientists increasingly conclude that ethnicity cannot be defined scientifically, but that hasn't stopped the racists, the Birthers and the confused from casting their insecurities onto the president.
Her face turned red and she walked away. And although I had not raised my voice, I admit that the exchange could have been smoother. (I do hope she comes up with a better response by the time her kids start to ask questions, because -- social construct or not -- I don't think a multiracial paradise is going to arrive by the time they hit middle school.)
Though Barack Obama never made his race a part of his presidency, he has become a national Rorschach test on the topic just by being. His election did not ease America into a postracial utopia, as a few dreamers had hoped. Instead, his very eligibility to hold the office has become an issue. A recent poll found that 45 percent of Republicans believe that the president was not born in the United States, despite confirmation of his citizenship by officials in his birth state of Hawaii.
It's not a stretch to link an uncertain economy and census figures that show an increasingly black and brown America to efforts to paint Obama as "the other." (Would the election of a president whose parent was born not in Kenya but, rather, a European country have launched the same conspiracy theories and proposed state legislation forcing future presidential candidates to prove their citizenship?) Others turn his self-identification as black into a rejection of his white mother and grandparents.
It's a shame that Obama has to take on yet another of the country's challenges, one that existed before he was born (in America) and will persist long after he leaves office.
The poor guy has to deal with the budget -- and this, too?
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root. She is a weekly commentator on TV's Fox News Rising Charlotte, contributes to NPR and was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.