Obama in Black and White (an Anniversary Story)
On this date
in 2008 Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the USA, consequentially “spell check” no longer generates
an error warning for his name.
OK, I’ll say it, “Isn’t
Barack Obama as much White as he is Black?” Specifically, his mother was White from Kansas and his father was Black
from Kenya Africa. Although I gladly and willingly accept the perception of being “Black”; racially coded comments
i.e. “real Americans”, “not one of us” notwithstanding. He is “Black enough” for me. The
unctuous narcissistic pettifoggers the media has previously anointed as Black leaders/spokespersons have been disconcerting
to say the least. Black is a social-political biological perception usually masked or revealed through skin tone. The election
of Obama as the 44th President did not solve the Black versus White racial issue in the USA, it underscored the divide as
Whites overwhelmingly voted for McCain and Blacks in an even greater percentage voted for Obama.
Eventually the Supreme Court will define natural born i.e. Does being natural
born mean “born in USA, USA territory, USA control, or being born anywhere with one or both parents being an USA national
i.e. Canada where Chester Arthur may or may not have born. There is some doubt that McCain could “survive” the
same “foreign born” allegations that Obama faced since McCain may or may not have been born in the USA controlled
area of the Panama Canal Zone.
While taking my constitutional
last year, a Mexican acquaintance supposedly humorously remarked, “America will have its last President if Obama is
elected, it will be the end of the USA”. This was too much for my usual mild mannered and timid disposition (alright,
stop laughing!). Mexico is still standing after having Black (Guerrero) and indigenous (Juarez) presidents. Furthermore, Gaspar
Yanga a.k.a. el Indio (the Indian), was an African nobleman who was captured and sold into slavery on the plantations of Vera
Cruz before escaping and fleeing to the rugged mountainous terrain. Yanga allied with the Indian inhabitants and other escaped
slaves to form an army that fought the occupying Spanish forces of Mexico to a standstill. Land was ceded to Yanga (a town
in Vera Cruz still bears his name) and Google “Black Mexicans” and you will discover brilliant scholarship on
these topics as well as well as information regarding the African explorers that visited South America and the Caribbean 2500
years before Columbus. (The logs of Cabral, Columbus, and other explorers of the New World depict “Black” settlements.)
Racial categorization has been a constant work in progress. In the stone age of Information Technology when I was developing
systems and applications for the US Army there were just four racial classifications (White, Negro, Mongolian, and American
Indian; Spanish and Mexicans were classified as White – the classification of “Other” was eventually added).
Today there are ever changing classifications and categorizations using race codes and ethnic types. Ethnic divisiveness was
comparatively seamless when you examine the behavior patterns of the ancients. Armies were integrated, there were inter-marriages
and the main difference was class ---- what you had as opposed to how you looked.
The divide between Blacks and Whites has a different tenor
when you traverse through History. There were Black Pharaohs (excellent February 2008 National Graphic article on same). The
Roman Empire encompassed most of Europe from the Mediterranean to Britain, parts of Asia and a portion of Africa. Consequently
there were Black popes, Black Roman Emperors (e.g. Severus from Africa and his descendants, and Medici in the region that
is now Germany to enumerate some).
There have been some unusual twists in History ---- White armies fighting Arab hordes, Black conquerors of the world, Hannibal
defeating the Roman Army using elephants as a precursor to tanks and Black Roman legions fighting White European tribes. Yes,
there were White tribes i.e. Celtics, Slovaks and Vandals. Another irony of note --- the liberator of most of South America
was a wealthy Black man, Simon Bolivar (born in 1783, the same year that the Revolutionary War in the USA ended).
Culturally there have been Black classical music greats
(Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart) and Jazz giants such as Duke Ellington (I know everyone knows Ellington was Black, but I dig
him and he never received the recognition he should have). A by-product of the post Columbus era when slave trading flourished
was the classification of race by skin color. To justify the bourgeoning enterprise that was using mostly Blacks; Blacks were
dehumanized to the extent that cultural achievement was not recognized, History was bleached, and scientific discoveries were
It was a circuitous route,
but the election of Barack Obama as President of the USA is History belatedly repeating.