He's Not Black?

Did anyone read Marie Arana's opinion piece in Sunday's Washington Post? If not, don't bother. Here's a synopsis (Well, actually, it's an impersonation):

Barack Obama is not black. He is multi-racial, like me (Arana). We can't keep calling him black. If we do, then we will be ignoring his other ethnicities. But, since we are calling him black, let me give you another example of a mixed race person—me (Arana again). I'm not white. I'm Hispanic American. My mother is from Kansas, and my father is from Peru. But, most of all, I like to trivialize the history of imperialism and religious insensitivity that occured in South America, among other places in the world. Rather than calling it the imperialism and insensitive missionary work, I'll disguise a troubled history in language that lauds 16th-century European conquistadors for "racial blindness". blah, blah, blah…


More than an examination of Barack Obama, that the headline suggests, Arana's piece is her perspective on South American racial history and the direction of racial identifying. This perspective, however, is a perfect example of why the assertion of blackness exists. Arana says, European "soldiers and sailors…were left to find local brides and settle the wilds of America." She then says that she wants more accurate language to define people. But with the mentality that indegenous Americans were once wild, to be settled by Europeans she perpetuates the oppresive generalizations that she claims to defend against. Arana is more focused on the melting pot, than she is on the ingredients. I thought it was the ingredients that made the whole pot idea dynamic in the first place. Barack is black—or African American, if you prefer—and Arana is Hispanic American. But, if we continue to fixate on these titles and not the cultures that they represent, we will all melt into homogeneity, diminishing our individual parts.