President Obama has been in office for six years now and people still don’t know what to call him, at least when it comes to his race.
Taye Diggs recently did an interview with The Grio discussing his new children’s book, Mixed Me. It’s a spin on his first book, Chocolate Me, detailing his experiences growing up as a dark-skinned boy, but for his bi-racial son. Naturally, the conversation turned to our Commander-in-Chief, who’s the product of an interracial relationship, and the actor brought up the age-old discussion about whether Barack Obama is really the first Black president or the first bi-racial president. He said:
“As African-Americans we were so quick to say okay he’s black he’s black, and then there were the white people who were afraid to say he was biracial because who knows. Everybody refers to him as the first black president, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that it’s interesting. It would be great if it didn’t matter and that people could call him mixed. We’re still choosing to make that decision, and that’s when I think you get into some dangerous waters.”
I sorta-kind-half-way get where Diggs is coming from, but the fact of the matter is Black people aren’t choosing to call President Obama anything, we’re calling the man what he said he wanted to be called. Here’s a video of President Obama referring to himself as an African American, as well as a Kenyan American. Here’s another instance of Barack Obama saying “I am a Black President.” And here’s a video of him relaying the issues he’s had with cops when he was younger because he’s African American. Barack Obama has never denied or downplayed being bi-racial but when he speaks about himself and his experiences it’s always as a Black man, not a bi-racial man. Sorry if Diggs wants to only claim Obama for the mixed population; he’s still ours too.
As Diggs noted when speaking on his new book, it’s clear, even with non-issues like this, people will always find a reason to debate.
“[Mixed Me] is kind of along similar lines for my son, even though in this day and age he’s going to have less of an issue being mixed than I did. It’s a book of self love and self appreciation and knowing that you are special regardless of what people will say about you because people will always say stuff.”
Yes, they will.