Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Our next president is as much a white person as he is a black person.

This is so, regardless of how he views himself.

This is so, regardless of how others view him.

This is so, regardless of what he looks like.

This is so, regardless of his wife and their children.

This is so, regardless of his chosen lifestyle.

His mother? White. His father? Black. Those are the controlling facts.

He then, considering only the physicality of his heritage (that is, his body) (that is, himself, and nothing else) is half white and half black. Just as much one as the other.

The rest is all imagery. His, and everyone else's. Some of that imagery is an expression of preference. Some is political. Some is the culmination of a yearning. Some is grounded in social and cultural pressures and current reality.

But all that comprises that imagery is only a snapshot. And every aspect of that snapshot most probably will change.

What will endure, as always, is what is so; and what is so is that he is just as much black as he is white, and vice versa.

And while we exult in the feeling of racial arrival welled up in the hearts and souls of people black (and shared perhaps to a lesser extent by people not black), my view is that a person with President-elect Obama's experience and intellect and Jesse Jackson's or Al Sharpton's corporeal and vocal attributes would not have been elected to be our president. If I am right about that, we should face what would then appear to be true, which is that we have not come as far, post-racially, as some have suggested.

In time, in time. But that seemingly Godot-like time will sooner be upon us if we can figure out how to talk to each other about our feelings and thoughts without being regarded as bigots, or characterized as racists.

That conversation, I believe, will not take place in any large sense. Instead, we will plod along with our randomly periodic increments and decrements.

But I do believe we will ultimately get there, one way or another. And, one way is that the Obama-form will become the norm, and the Jackson-Sharpton-forms will fade away. That is not a prediction, just a possibility.

Emulation of the fittest for survival of the increments.

And, one day, based on merit or a combination of merit and gut feeling, a person neither white nor just as white as black will be our President. At that time, we may justifiably view that decision of ours as post-racial.

That's how this all looks from here.


eric said...

See the Jackie Mason routine from his "final tour":
I go to the store to buy a pair of black shoes. The salesman puts a white shoe on one foot and black shoe on the other. "That one's white," I say. "No," he says, "this is a pair of black shoes." "But...."
We should allow everyone to pick an ethnic group when they reach a certain age. Sometimes I feel Dutch... Sometimes Russian... Once I felt Eskimo, but then I realized I was feeling Tibetan but colder.

Greg said...

well said. hopefully dialogue will open up and the topic will be appreciated one day.

Taylor said...

This is so, regardless of what he looks like. Really???

JT said...

To Taylor:

Yes. Really. It is so.

One's race is not determined by one's skin color.

For example, under the law, among the invidious discrimination prohibitions are both race and skin color.

And, consider this: suppose an Asian and a caucasion have a child. And suppose that the appearance of the child is asian. Is that child yet not half caucasion?

The point is that appearance is not determinative of much of anything other than perception-based assumptions. Neither these nor self-preferences decide questions such as this if fact is what is important to you.