Even Obama can't escape the questions
Remember the euphoria? That outpouring of excitement expressed by so many Americans who rushed into the streets to celebrate the night of Nov. 4, 2008, after it was clear that Barack Obama had been elected the 44th president of the United States.
Remember the euphoria?
That outpouring of excitement expressed by so many Americans who rushed into the streets to celebrate the night of Nov. 4, 2008, after it was clear that Barack Obama had been elected the 44th president of the United States.
For so many Americans - black, white, Asian, Hispanic and all those categories in between - the historic election of the first African-American president was something wonderful to behold.
Then came the naysayers.
Less than a month after the election, a Sunday op-ed commentary in the Washington Post was headlined:
"He's Not Black"
That was followed by writer Marie Arana's first sentence: "He's also half white."
"Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president is not black."
Arana, then the Post's book editor, received hundreds of online replies to her article. Some readers agreed, saying that because Obama's mother was white, he should not be called African-American. Arana also wrote of her personal history and of being bi-racial, with a white mother and Peruvian father.
But most of the responses were from African-Americans and others expressing thoughts such as:
"To the world he grew up in he's BLACK. It's only now that he holds the highest office that he's being seen as bi-racial. All during the campaign he was BLACK, according to white Republicans. But now he's BI-RACIAL. ... lol,'' wrote an online poster who called himself Columbiaskins.
In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Obama wrote of struggling with his racial identity as a darker-skinned child being raised by his white mother and grandparents.
He wrote of incidents in which he and other black students at his private school in Hawaii were not treated the same as white classmates whether on sports teams or when they began to date.
"Away from my mother, away from my grandparents, I was engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant," Obama wrote.
There were other incidents that shaped Obama's self-identity as a black man. "The older woman in my grandparents' apartment building who became agitated when I got on the elevator behind her and ran out to tell the manager that I was following her; her refusal to apologize when she was told that I lived in the building."
Years later, as a presidential candidate, Obama was asked by a Chicago Tribune reporter how he identified himself racially. He answered:
"My view has always been that I'm African-American," Obama said in 2004. "African-Americans by definition, we're a hybrid people." *