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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Half Breed

I have developed a premise about some of those folks who instinctively dislike and especially distrust Barack Obama; while some of it may be because he's black, I think there are just as many who react that way because he is of mixed race. Allow me to explain.

That bayou yahoo who refused to give a marriage license to a mixed race couple - doesn't he know about Loving vs. Virginia? - was probably seen as an aberrant reactionary; well, maybe.

When people say that someone is "half" something, that "something" is generally something other than white, e.g., "she is half Chinese", with the white assumed. (Read this Racialicious article to see why the whole fractionalization nomenclature is problematic.)

In fact, the only person I've EVER heard described as "half-white" by a white person is Barack Obama. Usually the context is this: "Why does he identify himself as black when he's half-white?"

Well, that's the great thing about the United States now, though not always in the past, is that people generally decide how they are identified. What the Census has allowed as of the last decennial count is that people can choose if they consider themselves as of one race or two races or multiple races. It's THEIR choice. Michelle Obama gets to identify as black even with her mixed heritage. Henry Louis Gates Jr gets to identify as black, even though his DNA test revealed in a PBS documentary that he was as much of European stock as African.

But when Barack Obama identifies as black when he had a white mother: is this seen as some sort of "rejection of his whiteness"? Thus the Glenn Becks of the world can say, apparently without irony, that the President "hates white people" and have some coterie of folks actually believe it.

I've not been talking policy disagreements here, so if you think that the enmity is totally based on deficits, health care. et al., that's fine. I'm just not convinced.
The title comes from the sometimes-angry Indian/white "half breed" named Quint on Gunsmoke, played by Burt Reynolds in 1962-66, who had difficulty fitting in with either culture.
Or maybe some song by Cher.



Uthaclena said...

I'm not sure that distrust of the President because he's a "half-breed" is any different than out-and-out racism because he's BLACK... that old "one drop" rule in action.

One of the results of Obama's election is that we get to see just how much racism and bigotry there really is in our country, and the contortions that they go through to deny it. "No, no, it's his policies." While I do think that there is also a significant number of people who loathe that socialistic Liberalism, there is a whole lot of overlap between them and the racists.

Roger Owen Green said...

What I mean is that SEX matters in America. It's OK for the JP to let his "black friends" use the bathroom; it's just not OK to have sex and have babies.