Why Won’t People Let Barack Obama Be Black?

July 5, 2012  |  

People usually ask that question saying why won’t X let Y or Z be great. But in the case of Barack Obama, it’s been made painfully clear why Republicans and Tea Party members in particular won’t let him be great, it’s because he’s black. That’s why I find it so interesting that despite all the hell he goes through as what most agree he is, the first black president of the United States, for some reason a strong segment of the black population won’t let him be black.

The latest forerunner in the case against Barack Obama’s blackness is actor Morgan Freeman. I imagine eyes rolled instantly at the mention of his name, along with a follow-up question of who cares? Unfortunately we care because Mr. Freeman denounced Barack Obama’s blackness openly in an interview with NPR today. Truthfully, I’m not even sure how the topic came up amongst discussion of his new movie, The Magic of Belle Isle, but nevertheless he let his thoughts on Barack Hussein Obama be known, saying:

“First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him … they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”

Really, Morgan? That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the leader of our nation? It appears he’s as color struck as the republicans he calls out in his next statement.

“He is being purposely, purposely thwarted by the Republican Party, who started out at the beginning of his tenure by saying, ‘We are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that he’s only going to serve one term,’ ” he said. “That means they will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say he’s ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts.”

At least he got that point right. Maybe Morgan thinks that if white people acknowledged the half of the president that is just like them he wouldn’t be so stonewalled, but with the last part of that statement I get the impression that Morgan is more so distancing himself from the president because of his multi-ethnicity rather than trying to point out what makes him a lot like the rest of America.

It continues to amaze me how the black community gets so upset when someone who is mixed identifies as such, as they criticize them for assumedly not wanting to really be black. But in the same token we separate these individuals from the real black people by pointing out their multi-ethnic background when they just want to be black. What purpose does this serve? Not a worthwhile one I can tell you that. I suppose we don’t have to subscribe to the one-drop rule that threw most of us in the colored pool way back when to begin with but if someone wants to identify as black, who is at least 50 percent black, and who is in a position of influence in this country, why are we trying to take that away from him? And again, for what reason?

We don’t just play this one day you’re black, the next you’re not game with President Obama when it comes to his genetic background we also label him as one or the other depending on his behavior and his policies. How many times have we heard people—black and white—mask their desire for a real black president as a joke, pointing out his mild mannerisms and timidness and how he’s actually willing to compromise, as any politician who wants to actually achieve things should, as evidence he’s not a real black man? Is there any wonder fools on the other side of the spectrum are going overboard with their machismo to prove they’re real black men? You know, having babies in every area code, disrespecting women, effing the police, and all that good stuff? I get Morgan’s point about Barack clearly being biracial but do we really want to start, or better yet continue, this trend of one-upping one’s blackness and segmenting another’s? If we go by this definition we’ll probably never have a black president because we’re all quite racially and ethnically mixed and that reality is increasing by the day.

We can all look at Barack Obama and see that he is clearly being treated like a black man, and he obviously identifies as such. We don’t need messages like this coming from the same group of people who gets angered by being thrown into one heap of people in society known as minorities. If we start singling out biracial people as something else altogether, our numbers will be way below the 12 to 13 percent of the population we currently make up today. If we think we’re the forgotten ones now, imagine what that new reality would look like.

I know some people are frustrated that President Obama hasn’t been more down for the team so to speak when it comes to the African American community, but I’m 99 percent sure that has nothing to do with the fact that his mom is white, and everything to do with him being in a position to look out for the country as a whole and also seeing that there is no quick policy switch he can hit that will suddenly make black people alright in the world. Can you imagine the type of backlash that would have arisen had Barack Obama stated in 2008 that he was biracial and not a black man? Black folks would have been rushing out in droves to take their votes back. Unfortunately, now some seem to have done the same with their votes of confidence, disappointed that Barack Obama hasn’t lived up to their definition of what a real black man is, proving once again that we’re often our own worst enemies.

What do you think about Morgan Freeman’s comment?

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for madamenoire.com. Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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