Why is Obama not a European-American?

I never cease to be amazed at the way Americans subscribe to the KKK-Jim Crow “one drop of negro blood” rule to define anyone with any black ancestry as black.

Using the euphemism “African-American” does not hide the fundamentally racist assumption behind this reasoning, and the fundamental racism that continues to infest America no matter what the lection results were last night!

If Halle Berry had children by a white man, they would be logically 75% white. But they would still be defined as black.

Obama has a black father and a white mother. So why is he not a European-American? Or at least a person of mixed racial background? Why black?

Do white Americans somehow define black genes as some sort of super-genes that overrule white genes even when a person is mainly white?

Or is this a left-over of the slavery ethos in which slave owners could father children on black women and still maintain the fiction that there were separate and distinct races, and that their children were not 50% white?

Thomas Jefferson’s slave girl mistress Sally Hemmings was reportedly so light-skinned that she was sometimes mistaken for a white woman. The three children Jefferson had with her must have been majoritively white in terms of racial background. But they were, conveniently, still slaves from birth until Jefferson kept his bargain with Sally and freed them.

Hey, why not look at it from this angle? Yesterday, only 43% of European-Americans voted for their fellow-European-American Barack Obama. But American blacks proved they could rise above racial considerations by voting 96% for a European-American with a white mother!:smiley:

There is no “definition” of blackness. If they looked black, there’s a good chance they would self-identify as black. If they didn’t, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t. I don’t believe Tiger Woods self-identifies as black, though I could be mistaken.
Obama self-identifies as black, likely because he looks black. If he had grown up in his family but looked white, he would probably have self-identified as white. And then people would start endless threads about how he’s really black…

He’s not a European-American because his mother was from Kansas and his father was from Kenya. Neither of these places are in Europe.

Also, the man self-identifies as black. That combined with the hue of his skin* is enough for me to call him black.

(I have no doubt that there are white people who identify as black, and I would have a much harder time classifying them as such. Not that I give a shit about racial classifications.)

I don’t know if that’s true necessarily, but let’s say this is true.

So what?

I think it’s that white is the ‘default’ in the American mindset. Calling someone ‘European-American’ would probably get you a ‘duh’-type response from most people. Other ethnicities, African-American especially, are pretty noticeable as different from the ‘norm’. So even if they’re mixed-heritage, as Obama is, they’re still usually easily identified as not (entirely) white.

We did this rather recently in the Why is Obama “black”? thread.

Is the topic for debate:
Why do people in the U.S. cling to race as a human marker?
Why does the “one drop rule” exist?
What should be done (realistically) about eliminating the “one drop rule”?
Something else?

Or is this simply one more let’s pick a topic to rant about thread in which no serious point is made but various posters can line up to demonstrate their perceived superiority to some other posters?

What is the explicit point to debate?

[ /Modding ]

There’s more to GD than this? Since when?

That’s what. Why do Americans cling to a definition of black based on slavery and exclusion of anyone who was deemed to be “tainted” with “inferior” blood for purposes of the application of segregation laws? Why not admit that you have millions of people of mixed race as well as millions of blacks?

because saying he is an english, irish, scottish, native, kenyan, (perhaps even a dash of german) american is a quite a lot to say.

he is of mixed ancestry just like most americans. that is why it is easier to go with just plain old american without the hyphen.

sen. obama chose to go with the ethinic backround that has the most percentage over the one that is ethinicly a bit of this, that, and a dash of another.

What makes you think we don’t admit that?

Admit it? I don’t even understand that word in this context. Who isn’t admitting it?

First of all you are mixing apples and oranges. English, Irish and Scottish are ethnicities. The equivalent of “English, Irish, Scottish” in Africa would be “Mandingo, Hutu, etc.”

Secondly, even if Obama had not self-identified as a black, America would have identified him as such. So stop pretending it is a matter of what people choose to identify as.

I just saw Colin Powell on TV tonight. He is even lighter than Obama. But do you think that he could “get away” with saying he isn’t black?

Colin Powell looks black. He’s going to be treated like a black man, so he’s likely going to identify as a black man.

This isn’t really that complicated. If someone goes into a store, he doesn’t give the salesman his genealogy. He just shows his face, and his face can determine how he’s treated. If he looks white, he’ll be treated as white for good or ill. If he looks black, he’ll be treated as black for good or ill. Obama’s background is very different than Colin Powell’s background, but they both would get treated as black men if they walked into that store.

Well Tomndebb, I assume the people on SDMB are capable of deciding if there is a worthwhile debate here or not, just like grown-ups! Of course, I suppose any excuse to shut down a Valteron thread . . . . . . . .

Tradition, and residual prejudice. That “one-drop rule” did a powerfully effective job of setting up a deep conceptual divide between the racial groups “black” and “white”, which was reinforced by generations of segregation and self-identification.

Our culture is just now starting to really assimilate the idea that racial heritage is actually a spectrum, and a simple binary classification of “white” vs. “black” isn’t adequately descriptive.

But we’re still getting used to the idea. It’ll be a while yet before it seems logical to most people to respond to the question “Are you black or white?” with “Both”.

Actually, the very existence of the term “African American” notes the error of this notion. The people who were imported from Africa to the U.S. were taken from multiple ethnic areas in Africa and mixed together, interbred (frequently under duress) with a number of European-descended Americans, interbred, also, to some significant degree with the indigenous North American Indians, producing a new, separate ethnicity.

The odds that any person descended from slaves, in the U.S., has sufficient unmixed ethnic ancestry to identify as any specific ethnic group in Africa is immeasurably tiny.
(This also speaks to your earlier statement:

There are not “millions of blacks” in the U.S. if one uses the term black to indicate sub-Saharan African. There are a few thousand recent immigrants. The rest are all mixed.)

Because we’ve always done it that way and we’re used to it.

I asked a legitimate question that you have once again refused to answer. There is no threat to move this thread as it has not followed your previous practice of posting raging rants under the pretense of seeking a debate. I just wondered what you intended for an actual debate. I see you intended nothing but another “bash someone” little rant, (in this case Yanks), but it is sufficiently mild that I will probably let it stay here as long as you do not turn it into a full-fledged rant.

[ /Moderating ]

Thank you, I stand corrected. I actually did suspect that most of the people called “black” in the US are probably actually mixed. I assumed that there might be some whose ancestors had always interbred exclusively with people of sub-saharan origin, even after arriving in America.

But that still does not answer my question as to why Americans rate a person as black when in some cases they are plainly 75% white or more. I am reminded of that funny episode on Seinfeld in which Elaine was dating a man with blond, curly hair, a broad nose, full lips and very white skin. Elaine kept wondering if he was “black”. The patent absurdity of it underscored the ridiculous definition of black that is used in America. (PS: He turned out not to be “black”.)