Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Barack Obama: black or white?

We can be skeptical on many things, but one area where conventional “wisdom” seems to drown out logical thinking is in the field of race.

Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for this year’s US elections, is widely touted as being the first ever “black” American to have a real chance of winning the presidency. After all, the black vote will be crucial in the elections (see here & here for example).

But while Obama may or may not win the presidency, is he really black?

Well, take a look at the pic below of the usual suspects in the current “regime”:

Okay, so you have – from right to left – Rumsford, Bush, Powell and Rice.

So looking at the pic, Rice stands out. But perhaps for her different clothing rather than because she has noticeably the darkest skin.

But as for the three guys, there isn’t much to choose between them. In fact, you could argue that Bush and Rumsford are actually darker than Powell. So does that make Bush and Rumsford more black than Powell? Because if it’s not darkness of skin that defines what makes someone black then what is it?

I mean this is not like tracing heritage to a particular country or ethnic group. Vietnamese Americans may, for example, be able to identify with their “homeland”, a country where they feel a certain cultural affinity. But as for black Americans what county are they identifying with? Kenya? South Africa? Liberia? Do they know? In fact, they are the only people I reckon who are categorized as a particular group because of their skin color. We don’t talk about Boston whites for example - but the fighting Irish.

As for Barack Obama, his father was black while his mother, the late Ann Dunham, traces her ancestry back to England.

So doesn’t this – for what it’s worth (which is actually nothing) - make Obama just as much white as black? And why is it that even if someone has a small amount of black heritage in them then the conventional wisdom is to consider them black? To me that smacks of a certain sort of racial nastiness, as if the person is somehow “contaminated” by the black heritage. So, shouldn’t black people who only have a little bit of white heritage in them also be considered as being white?

At the end of the day, race differences are all b-- shit of course; a mere artificial construct that is used to suppress particular groups by their supposed “race” for political/economic reasons.

After all, as Dawkins once pointed out: our genes are 99.99 percent the same - and you probably have more genetic similarities with a Papua New Guinea tribesman than you do with the dude sitting next to you on the bus.

Yep. Obama for President. But not cos he’s black…

… but because he’s a whole lot better than Bush!