The other day I wrote about how some folks don’t believe that Obama is black. Now I’ve already noted Dickerson’s hypocrisy, but I should hasten to say that she isn’t alone. Stanley Crouch is on the same page, though to be fair he makes a subtly different argument.
But I’ll save my comments about Crouch for another time perhaps. And give him a partial pass because as a good Negro nationalist he’s never held much truck in a universal conception of blackness anyway.
Today? I point you to Gary Kamiya’s piece where he critiques Dickerson, in effect taking my own position…but for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, although I think that Kamiya is pretty decent normally, I’m really glad his piece wasn’t written on paper. It’d be a waste to kill all those trees for what is in effect a worn out call for us to move beyond “black” in favor of getting to black.
Check out this doozy:
A majority group’s racial identity, since it encounters no external obstacles, singling out or bigotry, is always invisible to itself. But — and now we come to the interesting racial questions posed by Barack Obama — I would argue that not all members of minority ethnic or racial groups, even ones that have historically been subject to racism, necessarily see themselves as “Asian” or “Latino” or “black.” They may just see themselves as Asian or Latino or black. This doesn’t mean they necessarily reject any cultural traditions or community ties: It simply means they see themselves first and foremost as human beings who happen to be a certain race or ethnicity.
Let me be clear. I am not talking about disavowing one’s culture or background, acting “white,” or any other external actions. I am simply talking about an inner freedom from a superficial definition imposed by others. This freedom can — and in the case of blacks, probably usually does — coexist with a stronger consciousness of one’s racial identity than exists for white Americans, whose racial status is invisible to themselves. For many minorities — even though their minority status makes their ethnicity more visible to others, and thus to themselves, and even though they may have suffered from racial or ethnic prejudice — visibility and prejudice alone do not necessarily create a race or ethnicity-based identity.
And the kicker:
Having no racial self-identification is a utopian state because it allows you to escape this malignant mirror. In America, the white majority is fortunate to enjoy this.
Now in making his case–which concludes by saying that what we need to do is recognize our common humanity by sloughing off the racial burden that people expect us to carry–he does recognize that racism plays a role by constraining our choices. But his end point is the same. Instead of being “black” we need to just be…black. Like Obama, I guess.
Of the various responses to the piece, I think that Malik probably comes closest to hitting the nail on the head. It’s always mildly annoying to read writers who acknowledge that they don’t really live with race write about race. Particularly when it looks like they are padding the word count to do so. How about this–Does Obama think he’s black? Does his mama think he’s black? Does his wife think he’s black? Do his children think he’s black?
When he was working as a community organizer in Chicago, who was he organizing? Where does he live?
(do the POLICE think he’s black?)
He’d have been much better off just saying that Dickerson is off her rocker for arguing that black people need to get beyond race, then arguing the contrary when we are presented with a black person who can do just that.
Oh. Girly girls.
I’ve only recently begun to talk about my family, and even then not really. My wife has another groove going though. She asks a question that is fairly pertinent to those of us (black and non-black) raising daughters. What makes a girly girl? My youngest daughter Niara is going to be a straight up headknocker when she grows up, but at the same time is beautiful in pink. The 21st Century. Go figure.