Rappers Young Jeezy and Nas said it best – “My President is Black.”
When I shook hands with President Barack Obama at the White House last year, I was looking directly at a Black man – the first African-American commander-in-chief in U.S. history.
For me, there is no question that the president is a Black. But not everyone in America sees Obama as I do. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans describe the president as “mixed-race,” while just more than 27 percent call him Black.
Whites and Hispanics are far more likely to describe Obama as “mixed race,” while a large majority of African-Americans see him as Black, according to the study. Obama, the son of a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father, self-identifies as Black. In 2010, the Associated Press said Obama “did not check multiple boxes on his U.S. Census form, or choose the option that allows him to elaborate on his racial heritage.
He ticked the box that says ‘black, African Am., or Negro.’’’ In other words, Obama views himself as a Black man. For some white Americans who voted for Obama, it may be easier for them to view him as “mixed-race” because it makes it more acceptable to have a partially black president in the White House.
But for Obama, being a black man is more than just checking a box on a Census form: It’s about what’s in his heart and soul – like his passionate stand about uplifting Black boys and inspiring Black men. That’s why Obama created “My Brother’s Keeper” – a new and unprecedented national initiative to empower young men of color.
In one of the president’s most fervent speeches during his tenure in the White House, Obama said he wants to ensure that young men of African-American and Hispanic heritage become an integral part of America’s success and educational excellence.
“If you’re African-American, there’s about a one-in-two chance you grow up without a father in the house. If you’re Latino, you have about a one-in-four chance,” Obama said in February. “We assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is. It’s like a cultural backdrop for us in movies and television. We just assume — of course it’s going to be like that. But these statistics should break our hearts and they should compel us to act.”
Hank Arron, the legendary Hall of Fame baseball player, not only views Obama as Black, but says the President is a constant target for racists simply because he’s African-American.
“This country has a Black president, but when you look at a Black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Arron told USA Today. “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
Arron, who received loads of racist hate mail after he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record 40 years ago, knows what it’s like to be despised just for being black. And he found out again, when the comments above made him a target of more hate mail.
President Obama is a black man. That’s how I see him. And I don’t need to examine his Census form to know it’s true.
(Photo: White House Flickr)
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