If Obama had two black parents and not raised in a white family would he have won the election? Did it make him more acceptable to whites? As a white male who voted for him I must admit that if he had been then I would of been concerned his agenda as president would of been centered around race and not the issues that concern me.
IME a lot of people don’t know he’s half white.
But no, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. To the people who care, 1 drop of nigra blood makes you a nigra.
Even if he’d had exactly the same history of actions as real-world-Obama, the sole difference being the race of his family?
He probably got a few more white votes based on thoughts that he would know how to understand their problems.
The most crucial impact of his white relatives was that they probably taught him how to appeal to white people. A lot of black politicians can’t let go of the politics of racial victimization and they can’t understand why those politics don’t appeal to white people. Obama knew better.
My personal experience with folks who are prejudiced against blacks people does not lead me to believe they find it more acceptable if he comes from mixed parentage. So, no, I don;t think being of mixed heritage significantly helped his chances of election.
it does give him a foot in both camps. he grew up in a state that is more diverse than say… kansas. and he dealt with people who couldn’t see past his colouring.
he doesn’t have a blood connection to slavery, which gives him a slight outsiders view to the african american centuries of history. through his wife he has a connection to the history. which was part of the whole “not black enough” thing early in the election.
his genetic backround makes a large part of the u.s. see themselves in him.
very true, there are many people in the history of the u.s. and some in the very recent history of the u.s. that think not all of thier children should have the same rights. that this child should be segregated from thier half siblings because of skin colour. that a daughter of mr. smith should not be able to sit next to another daughter of mr. smith on a bus, or in a train station, or at a restaurant.
just makes my brain explode when i think of that.
Early in the campaign, I would forget that he was half-white and whenever they would show pictures of his mom and grandparents I would momentarily be amazed that Obama was half-white.
And then I’d slap myself because I’d known that for months.
If Obama had had two black parents (or if anything else of significance had been different about him), he wouldn’t be the person he actually is. He’d be a different person, with different life experiences.
But with that in mind, my answer is Maybe. Whenever I hear people refer to Obama as “black,” or “the first black president,” I’m tempted to say, “No, he isn’t really. He’s mixed. Like America.” If African Americans can identify with him because of his black side, can’t I identify with him because of his white side? Without that, he’d be one degree more different from me, and I might have to work just a little harder to understand where he’s coming from.
If Mr. Spock, in the original Star Trek, had had two Vulcan parents, would he have been less acceptable to Earth viewers?
At times, Obama’s white mother was like the invisible 3rd candidate on the ticket. His half-white identity got signficant attention, so I can’t imagine how anyone could not know the man is biracial. I can’t think of any other candidate whose pedigree has been talked about so much. I have no doubt that consciously Obama played up his white heritage to mitigate the scariness of his black side. The man had to do with what he had to do, so I’m not mad at him. But still…it was obvious at times what he was doing and it made me uncomfortable.
That said, if Obama’s parents had been black descendants of slaves I’m not sure he would have been significantly worse off. Yes, his mom was white and that helped him a lot, but his dad being Kenyan left him vulnerable to racism and xenophobia with a big dash of anti-Muslim sentiment. I think one Kenya dad is equivalent to two African-American parents.
Dude (or dudette) . . . I can pretty much guarantee you that there are millions of Americans who don’t know Bush is from Texas. I knew people who still didn’t know who was running until late summer.
I know he was born in CT but he is a Texan.
He’s mixed like most black Americans are.
If he had been the child of a black single mom, it would have changed the race. Nobody get the idea that electing a black president means that we aren’t still using different metrics for different races. (As a thought experiment, imagine that instead of Sarah Palin’s teen daughter getting pregnant, it was Barack Obama’s teen daughter (yeah, I know Malia isn’t a teen. Work with me here!). The shitstorm wouldn’t have died down for decades.)
Two things: first, it sometimes seems to me that after centuries of the “one drop of blood” rule of racial definition, we’re now moving towards something almost like the Creole class of French Lousiana and Haiti. Think Tiger Woods, Halle Berry and Barak Obama. Or even Thurgood Marshall, if you want to go back aways. Second, Obama has an unusal background of being literally an African-American: white American mother, black African father. To put it in it’s crudest terms, none of Obama’s ancestors were slaves. I think Lakai’s comment about Obama not being ingrained with the racial victimhood thing is spot on.
Absolutely. That’s why it was so annoying to hear people say “He wouldn’t be where he is if he wasn’t black.” Does anybody think George W. Bush would be where he is if he wasn’t white (which historically has been of somewhat greater advantage in achieving the presidency).
But to play along with the hypothetical, I’m sure the fact that he had a white mother made it easier for *some *white voters to vote for him, but that number is certainlyquite small compared to those who would have voted for him anyway or didn’t vote for him as it was. Remember also that he faced the question from some quarters of “is he black enough” (compared to what, I wonder?) or “is he a real African-American?”
Context is everything. Visiting his grandmother’s village in Kenya, he’d be the mixed one. In the Presidential Hall of Portraits, no one would have any problem picking out the black one (it’s not Clinton).
I think Obama is only one-eighth Vulcan.
I think race is still an important issue in America and, therefore, concerns us all.
I don’t remember him saying, doing, or supporting anything that would give credence to such concerns.
However, I have wondered if he would have been so successful if he had been very dark skinned; yes, I know the two are related, but I think seeing Obama’s relatively fair skin was more reassuring than knowing he had two white grandparents.
But I could be completely wrong; maybe everyone else * who voted for him is truly color-blind and preferred his policies.
- I heartlessly abandoned the Greens for him, because I wanted to help make history. Sue me.
The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.
This idea of “racial victimhood” is not some indoctrination process. What you see is the erosion of trust that happens in a society that generally views Blackness as a negative, Black people with less humanity, and Black culture with suspicion. Just ask Amadou Diallo, or Abner Louima how much their ancestry mattered to the cops who murdered, and assaulted them? It’s unfair to equate the palpable sense of hostility and indifference many of us are subjected to on a regular basis to a chip on one’s shoulder. While there are people who may be that way, most of us aren’t. Even on this board full of highly educated (often progressive) people, we’ve had threads where people freely admit their bigotry. People have talked about family members who won’t vote for a Black person, and others have admitted they would not live in a Black neighborhood. The list goes on…
You don’t need to tell a young Black kid anything about slavery, the KKK, or Jim Crow laws or anything else from our ugly past for him to understand our regrettable imperfect present. We are not inculcating victimhood through education, we are doing it by victimizing people. Whether it’s pulling Black motorists over for no reason, or throwing out resumes with Black-sounding names, we are teaching each successive generation that their skin color will work to their detriment. Slavery may be the most vivid, easily accessible, or pernicious example, but it is not what defines the current Black experience in any meaningful way, and it’s not the only thing that leads people to feel victimized. I know you probably didn’t mean what you said that way, but I think those types of comments need to be addressed because they fuel this narrative that racial tension is primarily driven by “self-righteous feeling of oppression or inferiority” on the part of Blacks.
The theory also doesn’t past the smell test wrt Obama. Anyone who has read his books knows he has grappled with racial identity and prejudice in the same ways many of us who are descendants of slaves have. I don’t think his background has anything to do with the tone he chose for his campaign. It has far more to do with his temperament, training, and age. Politically, times have changed. He didn’t have to weigh in on racial politics because they have (largely) been taken off the table. He’s too young to been directly affected by most government-sanctioned racism, and he is too smart to embrace a losing strategy having seen it fail numerous times. I don’t know that his racial background made a whole lot of difference. That’s one reason I think Deval Patrick’s hypothetical road to the white house would not have been substantially different.
Brickbacon, Obama’s background let him understand white people.
If he would have grown up in a black neighborhood, with black parents, he would have never understood what white people dislike about blacks. He mentioned it in his speech on race, and I am near positive that the only way he was so perceptive was because he grew up around racist white people. He couldn’t just dismiss his own grandparents, so he instead tried to understand them. This is what allowed him to transcend race in this race.
Victimhood is appealing to black politicians because a lot of them went into politics to fight racial inequality. The problem is that they don’t understand just how toxic that philosophy is to white people. Black politicians before Obama tried to fight inequality by convincing enough white people of the victimization of black Americans. This strategy will get you the votes of a handful of black radicals and liberals. It won’t get you the votes of immigrants who had nothing to do with slavery. Most of whom don’t understand why they have to work their way up on their own, but black people keep asking for welfare reform and affirmative action. The Americans who worked their way out of poverty will also never understand why black people want to expand welfare programs.
Obama knows this is how white people think. So he proposes polices in a way that appeal to everyone. Black politicians will want to help blacks because they say blacks need it most, but no one realizes how bad that sounds. Obama’s policies and programs might end up helping more blacks than whites, but he is never going to say that. He will always make the case that his policies are for everyone, because he knows that’s how you will get white people to support them.
What you’re attributing to racial transcendence is called being a smart politician. It doesn’t take a biracial background to know what to say and how to say it.
As your post shows, Obama did a masterful job of convincing white people that he is not like one of those scary black guys because “I know how white people think”, with the unspoken implication that “they” do not. It’s frustrating to me that he even had to prove this in order to get elected. White politicians aren’t required to go through this dog and pony show. They aren’t expected to pull out their picture albums and point out all their black friends and family before are they considered worthy enough to be voted for.
Being biracial does not automatically imbue someone with insight into how whites (or blacks) see things. What it does give is one the ability to claim such insight when relating with people who need that kind of assurance.
You know, you’re arguing that if Obama were black in a black neighborhood with black parents he wouldn’t have understood white people. But, well, where are you getting your claimed understanding of black people?