I found this editorial in the Detroit Free Press by a reporter who’s mother is white and father is Ethiopian:

Besides, many African American leaders before Obama were part white. Frederick Douglass, the legendary abolitionist, and Booker T. Washington, who founded the Tuskegee Institute, both had mothers who were slaves and white fathers.

And many had parents not of this country, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, with his Jamaican heritage.

If Obama is not African American, then many of those championed as African-American trailblazers aren’t either.

And neither am I.


Last month, four cops cornered me in a parking lot during rush hour for a routine traffic violation in a suburb I actually cover. When they told me to keep my hands visible even after I handed them my business card, I could have told them I’m sure the level of aggression was due to me being half-white, right?

As Jill mentioned, the MSM may have been premature in jumping on the “black folks haven’t leapt to Obama” meme, and this editorial reminds us that, in terms of heritage, purity of blood is hardly an historical standard. Besides, find me an “authentic” African-American who doesn’t have white blood in him. Seriously. Find me one. Al Sharpton, whose black credentials no one questions, is kin to Strom Thurmond. If Black folk can accept that, Obama should be ok.

What’s more interesting are the man’s policies, not bloodline, as Bruce Dixon posted in a comment today. Excerpted:

Another layer is the shallowness of what the corporate media claim is at the root of black unease with Obama. To hear them tell it, it’s all about ancestry, a “black tax”, and authenticity. Nowhere in these discussions in corporate media do I hear any discussion of real issues, and issues there are aplenty. Obama had to be constantly prodded even during his Dem primary campaign in Illinois to be noticeably against the war. Obama’s first act as a senator was to NOT stand with Boxer and the entire black caucus in questioning Ohio’s nullification and suppression of tens of thousands of black votes. Obama campaigned vigorously against the Patriot Act, then voted for its renewal and its successor. He voted to protect corporations against lawsuits from people they harm and kill, and opposed an amendment to the bankruptcy bill that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30%. He threw softballs at Condi Rice when he should have been advising and withholding consent, and on and on. And he has never stepped back from his statements that Iran should be bombed.

I would welcome any discussion which focused on issues like these. In fact, this is a great opportunity to highlight a potentially powerful website at OpenCongress.org. It’s a project of the Sunlight Foundation and offers extensive legislative coverage in a blog-friendly web 2.0-y kind of way. Check out Obama’s profile, and report back if you find something interesting.

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