Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Created equal

February 15, 2007


To the editor:

The current controversy over whether Barack Obama, with his white Kansas mother and Kenyan, African father, has the pedigree to be called African-American confuses me.

I find the term African-American puzzling as there are many who identify themselves as "African-American" but have obvious white ancestors. Do the rules of the antebellum and Jim Crow post-Reconstruction eras still apply today: "One drop of African blood" and a person must self-label as African-American, not just American like those of other ancestries?

Like Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois and Harriet Jacobs, half of Obama's ancestry is white. His Kenyan father is not a descendant of slaves, and he cannot claim the status of ex-slave American. So is this where the confusion stems from? Is the real criteria of "African-American" not that of race but the shared history of suffering that slavery caused? Can a Jew still be a Jew if his ancestors were not in the Holocaust?

Fortunately, today, many of mixed race are not afraid to acknowledge all our heritage. I would like to think that the time has come for all Americans, no matter their racial ancestry, to forgive and make amends for the brutalities and injustices of the past and to move forward to make America a country where "all : are created equal."

As far as Obama's pedigree is concerned, I think as citizens we should be far more interested in his politics to create unity among today's divided Americans, instead of quibbling over racial labels.

Serina Hearn,



KS 11 years, 1 month ago

If you are white and born in Africa and are now a USA citizen, are you an Afican American?

imastinker 11 years, 1 month ago

What if you are born in America and move to Africa? Maybe an American african?


gr 11 years, 1 month ago

What if you are white, born in Africa, and still are in Africa. Would you be called an American, American-African, or an African?

Then, if you are black, born in America, never seen Africa, and still are in America, wouldn't you be called an American?

What if you are born in Kansas, aren't you a native Kansan? And a native American?

Speakout 11 years, 1 month ago

Or our Jewish Souls, or Muslim Souls. How ridiculous.

Here is the exact point: As long as we give perferential treatment to one race, ethnicity or class of citizens, we are involved in racisim and "UNequal under the law". I mean if we allow test scores to be lower for AAs then we are being racist. Why not have one set of scores?

Answer: because AAs cannot meet that, so we lower them to allow more AAs to get into college or go to law school, whatever.

No wonder we have a mess in this country. We are really a foolish lot. I am all for everyman in the country, but not one over the other. I firmly believe that if everyone has to step up to the task, everyone will, but if we allow some to not quite step up to get in, they will. It is pretty simple.

gr 11 years, 1 month ago

Excellent, Marion! I didn't know anyone actually did it, but they should! He has more right to use it, than those who have never been to Africa. I bet he's one cool guy!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 1 month ago

I could easily use the term German American to describe myself, as that's where most of my ancestors came from. Though I suppose I could claim to be English American or Irish American or a number of other things.

But I prefer to just be known as an American.

I have never understood the term African American, or Asian American. If people were born in this country, they are simply Americans. They may be Americans of African descent or Asian descent (or in my case, of German descent), but if they themselves were not born in Africa, or Asia, how can they be African Americans or Asian Americans?

Do people refer to themselves as Spanish Americans, or Cuban Americans? I've never heard of it if they do.

denak 11 years, 1 month ago

Yes people do refer to themselves as Cuban-Americans. There is nothing wrong with being proud of ALL your heritages and histories. It never fails to amaze me when people get bent out of shape over hyphenated heritages. African in African-American and Cuban in Cuban-American and Asian in Asian-American are all adjectives that emphasize the word American. In other words, it stresses American rather than Cuban, African or Asian. Grammatically speaking, it is a unifier not a divider.

However, the country has a history of discrimination against certain ethnic groups. It is not preferential to acknowledge that this history still has an impact on society and individuals today. It is not preferential treatment to have handicapped accessible entrances or to have laws such as the ADA/IDEA or Affirmitive Action that acknowledge the realities of this country.

People like to believe that they have "complete" free will but that isn't true. People are shaped by the culture around them Their mores, how they dress, how they interact with each other, their views of right or wrong, etc. are all shaped by society. So there are legitimate sociological reasons for why there are disparities within certain groups and why immigrants actually get "dumber" the longer they are here (ie 3rd generation Asian-Americans aren't any smarter in math then the average American is. The cultural pull that shaped the first generation Asian-American gives way to the cultural pull here in the U.S. and instead of putting school first and foremost, by the third genreation, they have the same attitude are other Americans.)

Anway, I think we are all missing the point here.

This whole Obama is black, white, biracial etc things is fabricated. I don't think most people care. I think he is someone who has captured the feel of America right now and who is young and vital and who represents a new way of doing things as opposed to Bush and all the drudgery of the last few years.

It is the same as when Kennedy ran for president. Everyone freaked out because he was Catholic. The only reason that was news is because we had never had a Catholic as president before. The news people had to come up with something. The same with Obama. I think the news is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Obama will win or lose based on his merit. Yes, there are some people who will not vote for him because he is African-American and there will be people who vote for his simply because he is, but I think the American people are advanced enough to vote for him on his merit rather then anything else.

KayCee 11 years, 1 month ago

From the LTE; "I think as citizens we should be far more interested in his politics." And from 'denak'; "Obama will win or lose based on his merit. "

I don't care what they call him, I call him far left politicly, and therefore will NOT vote for him.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

As far as Obama's pedigree is concerned, I think as citizens we should be far more interested in his politics to create unity among today's divided Americans, instead of quibbling over racial labels.

Serina Hearn

Serina hit the nail on the head. It's the position on the issues that matter. All else is diversion from the substance.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 years, 1 month ago

KS, If you were implying that Obama was born in Africa, you are misinformed (probably watching Fox's lies again). He was born in Hawaii.

Leprechaunking13 11 years, 1 month ago

Maybe it's because the term caucasion classifies just about any ancestry that could be white, so now there is no reason for whites to separate themselves into smaller groups. Also has to do with a race chart that cultural anthropologists use that dictates race. Basically if you are mixed you are classified into the Minority, which is why mixed african americans now even very light skinned and more white than black claim more often then not to be black and not white.

redwaggoner 11 years, 1 month ago

I for one think (there I go again, thinking!) that all should stop playing the "race card". Once you (or your ancestors) came to be citizens of this great land, we should forget that we are of some other heritage and pull together to make this country even greater. We cannot accomplish this by standing in separate corners claiming to be Afican Americans, Irish Americans, or whatever your heritage may be.
By no means, forget your roots! They are a valuable tool for you to grow on. This is America, The UNITED STATES (or we were taught) of AMERICA. We are forty-eight contiguous states,plus the included/added states of Hawaii & Alaska, but I don't see any UNITY any more. Let's all fight to bring back unity and equlity for all, no more separatism!!!

Jamesaust 11 years, 1 month ago

What next? Analogies to Cockapoos and Labradoodles?

Obama's a mongrel - just like everyone else.

And Obama is slightly left of center - the center of the far left. Why is it that the Left in this country is afraid of its own shadow or of being labelled "liberal"?

KS 11 years, 1 month ago

dorothyhr - Never said anything about him being born in Africa. I know full well that he was born in Hawaii and I didn't learn that from FOX. Sorry! Where did you learn it, from CNN?

lacoov 11 years, 1 month ago

What if you are white, born in Africa, and still are in Africa. Would you be called an American, American-African, or an African?

If you're born in Africa then you're African. Being white has nothing to do with your nationality. If you have a parent that is American you could possibly have dual citizenship depending on the requirements set by immigration.

KayCee 11 years, 1 month ago

Brownback is conservative, but not conservative enough for me! I'd vote for Allen Keyes if given the chance-There is a real conservitive for you.

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