Is Barack Obama Black?

Duh!!!! For the last time, yes.

Let's divorce the concept of race from biology or some percentage of ethnicities or even the One Drop Rule. I had a wonderful class in undergrad that explained being black in America as a shared experience, history, and struggle. By that definition alone, yes, Barack is back. By this definition biracial does not exist. If you identify, classify, or are down with the struggle then you are African American.

I have read Dreams of My Father and from day one Barack experienced the duality of being both black and American. He has had people asking to touch his hair, wanting him to be the 'cool, black kid' they happen to know. He has been discriminated against but never let that hold him back.


IMO, people who want to reclassify him as biracial are people who have denied their position as African Americans and want a role model for their indecisiveness. Like, "hey let's all hang out here in the land of ambiguity." Because no one wants to feel the full weight of being African American, the contempt, stereotypes, racism, etcetera, etcetera.

But Barack killed that noise early on. The attacks he suffered during the campaign were not lessened by this "white half". No he carried the full brunt of it like so many of our people who are a grand mixture already.

If we reduce people to percentages then what do you have? Black people with new dumb labels across their forehead, the modern equivalent of the ubiquitous, "I have Indian in my family."


I will leave you a quote from W.E.B. Dubois:

"It is peculiar a sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, – An American, A Negro; two souls, two thoughts, to unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

The Souls of Black Folk

Not one percentage in there.

31 thoughts on “Is Barack Obama Black?

  1. It’s just annoying how people want to claim Barack noe that he is President.. As if he can’t just be black, he has to be something other than to get props. Puhlease! 

  2. BTW just read your post at your blog. I think I identify as both interchangeably. It depends on my mood, I guess. It’s a good question. I think I face more hardships based on race though.

  3. Talula, your histrionics aside, Barack Hussein Obama is not black and nothing you said makes a solid case that he is.
    If you’re down with the struggle you’re black? So … Father Pfleger (St. Sabina, Chicago) is black? On the flip, if you aren’t down with the struggle, you aren’t black?
    As for indecisiveness, you simply have to be kidding me. Black folks still can’t quite figure out how they feel about those who are black and white. Sometimes they hate us because, according to them, we think we’re better than they are. Sometimes they love us because, despite how painful it is for them to admit this, in their minds we represent the best of both worlds physically and socially.
    To say that a person with one black parent and one white parent is biracial is about as decisive as one could be, because like it or not, by definition, he is.
    Not only are those who say that Obama is black indecisive, they’re lazy. “Black” is hardly a catch-all. Even the people who say they’re black are quick to point out that “most black people in America are mixed with something.” There’s that indecisiveness again.
    Obama doesn’t need to be black or biracial to get props, which shouldn’t be given or withheld on the basis of race anyway. But I’m not going to let people insist he’s black without pointing out that he’s just as white as anything else. It’s not about trying to big-up Whitey. It’s about not allowing people to redefine who those who are biracial are.

  4. LH:
    I had a manager who was biracial and just as confused as you are. No one is making a judgement on your heritage but letting you all know that you are and have always been included in African American/black like all of us. It’s about inclusion not artificially creating subcategories based on some nonexistent fractional race makeup.
    Do you know the extent to Barack’s mom racial makeup? No. Is she 10% Native American? Or Asian? No. this false identity of white is what’s indecisive and misleading.
    Let’s be clear. He is the son of an African, he looks black, he identifies with being black, he is judged based on that appearance, and yes he is down with the cause. He has white heritage like many African Americans. What the big deal? He doesn’t chose to sit on the fence? Is that what bothers you people who try to force him into the something other than what he claims himself to be.
    I hope this doesn’t offend you but it’s not about who you declare yourself to be. It is about Barack and how he, the world, and the rest of us see him..
    Not as a fraction.

  5. “Confused” is one of the first cards that people play when their arguments are intellectually bankrupt–as is yours.
    You don’t even know what race is, as evidenced by this foolishness: “It’s about inclusion not artificially creating subcategories based on some nonexistent fractional race makeup.”
    Race itself is an artificial subcategory based on something that is biologically nonexistent. What, precisely, makes you “black?” Your complexion? Your hair? Your body? The music you like? The food you eat? Your struggle? And I’m serious right now: what makes you black?
    I noticed how you asked me about Obama’s mother’s racial makeup whilst overlooking his father’s racial makeup? Is it that you know that he’s 100 per cent black or is it that because he’s Kenyan with dark skin, he’s automatically 100 per cent black?
    And telling me that I’m confused but then saying you hope I’m not offended is ridiculous. But just so you know, I can trace from whence I came on both sides of my family to the 1700s (maternal) and 1600s (paternal). Can you? Can most “black” people?
    I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and say, ‘No,’ to both. African American? Seriously? Is Africa is a country? Last I checked, it’s a continent. Where in Africa, precisely, are your forebears from? When they arrived in the States, when did they and where were they? What were their names? How did they look? What were their tendencies? Please don’t talk to me about being confused. It doesn’t apply to me. I know who I am.
    To recap, Barack Obama is the son of a “black” man from Kenya and a “white” woman from the U.S. You and no one else gets to say he’s one or the other because, well, you want to. That goes for you and “the rest of us.”

  6. LH you DO sound confused.
    “But just so you know, I can trace from whence I came on both sides of my family to the 1700s (maternal) and 1600s (paternal). Can you? Can most “black” people?”
    As far as this statement goes on my grandmother’s side we can trace her roots back to the ship her family sailed here on in chains. But as far as the rest of black people and my family included you should know this: Slaves were kept ignorant. I doubt that many masters were keeping a detailed record of where their goods were shipped from. So this statement is utter bull and ridiculous.
    As far as the meat of the argument goes. Barack identifies as black get over it. Does it offend you that he does not have a problem with identifying as black while knowing that he is bi-racial
    Oh and lets not forget that should YOU ever commit a crime YOU will be described as a black male (especially if you look like one) and not a biracial male.

  7. Kristin, what did I write, specifically, that gives you the impression that I’m confused? If it’s that I’m able to trace my maternal and paternal lineage back a few centuries, try again. That’s knowledge, not confusion.
    As for your grandmother’s roots, mentioning a slave ship isn’t enough. Most “blacks” in the States can say that their ancestors came here on a slave ship. As I trust you’re aware, the first slaves were brought to the States beginning in 1619 with the arrival of the White Lion.
    Unless I’m mistaken, that wasn’t the only ship to make the voyage from Africa to the States. I’m not asking you to provide specific dates but if you’re going to put it out there, a century and maybe even a port would be nice.
    In a back-door way you made my point for me. You mentioned your grandmother’s side of the family as if you only had one of them. Everyone has two grandparents, remember? So, Kristin, was she your maternal grandmother or your paternal grandmother? In either case, you neglected to mention one side of your family. I guess your mini-lesson about slaves being kept ignorant was meant to address that glaring omission, huh? Oh, and to draw a fine point on it, where in Africa did your grandmother’s forebears come from?
    The net is that most blacks in the States don’t know from whence they came any further back than three or four generations. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ll be damned and a half if anyone tells me I’m “confused” when I know precisely who I am–whether they do or don’t.
    I don’t have anything to get over. I know who I am and I don’t let anyone tell me differently. But the real issue goes beyond individuals and extends to the social and intellectual laziness of people who recite the party line (he’s black) without giving any real thought to the matter or even being able to offer a cogent defence of their position.
    As for your hypothetical, try again, again. Telling me how other people see me is the ‘Barack is black’ argument remixed. And it’s still seven ounces short of a full cup.

  8. Unfortunately you still seem lost despite knowing your roots.
    I think this makes you insecure and you pick arguments with people trying to claim Barack as one of your exclusive club. Get real. Are you 1/2 Kenyan and 1/2 Kansan? Hmmm? so you pick an arbitrary characteristic (having a ‘white’ half) and you want to claim that as some new category for defining people. Yeah, I’m with Kristin.

  9. Dear confused LH,
    Knowing your “roots” does not mean that you are not confused. I mentioned only my maternal grandmother because that is the only side of my family I chose to deal with. Second of all I can tell you the ship and how much she cost she was bought with flour and sugar.
    Without genetic testing and mapping I am unlikely to ever know what tribe my family originated from. I think you are mistaken in believing knowing your families lineage keeps you from being confused because you know from whence you came. Please, I know who I am, I am happy with my classification. The confusion for you is that you want other people to accept your biracialness when honestly most people black or white could give to shits about it. It is only important to you. Get over it!
    Your asinine and constant beleaguering of blacks in the states not knowing their lineage I find odd. It is almost as if YOU have a superiority complex in that regard. Do you feel you know yourself intimately better because you can trace your lineage back and “blacks from the states” can’t? I repeat get over yourself.

  10. This comment was sent to me from Smooth Thug Via email.
    LH, at times I get a little chuckle out of you. You state, ” Talula, your histrionics aside, Barack Hussein Obama is not black…” I postulate that he is. I will also take it one step further and say that Ms. TZA is black, Kristin is black, you’re black, I’m black, Chinese are black, Russians are black, Jews are black, as are Armenians, Arabs, etc. Have you dropped your load in your underwear yet? I certainly hope not. That would be most unfortunate (And rather messy too). I am of that “party line” and will “offer a [very] cogent defense of [my] position.” Whether you agree with me or not is your own affair.
        It is now accepted by the academic and scholarly community that humans evolved in Africa. In the 1960’s, Dr. Louis Leaky found bones in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Did you hear that, y’all? In Tanzania… in Africa! Dr. Leaky saw that these bones were more human than anything else, and pronounced them to be about two million years old. In addition, Dr. Leaky determined that because this individual more than likely had enough brain power to make and use tools, he named this individual HOMO HABILIS (The Handy Man).
        Fairly recently, some foot bones were found in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia… again, in Africa! These bones were determined to be about 5.2 million years old. It was surmised that they were more human than anything and definitely not from an ape.
    Source: Nature. July 12, 2001. (Read it and weep, LH.)
        Eventually, these very early humans began to migrate out of Africa. This migration began about a million years ago. Some headed off to Asia, others to the Orient, while others ended up in Europe and up into Scandinavia. Now these early humans begin to reproduce in isolation, and they begin to evolve independently. The ones in Europe, and especially those in Scandinavia, eventually lost their melanin due to less sun light, and in the case of Scandinavia, no sun light for half of the year. Hey, ya’ll, now we got us a bunch of white folks! But notice what happened, y’all: their hair, skin and eyes got lighter. In other words, white folks are nothing but a bunch of mutations; a gaggle of freaks of nature. LH, I’ll bet I just turned your minuscule little world on its ear, didn’t I? But now back to your comment, “… Barack Hussein Obama is not black…” Oh, of course he is, don’t be absurd. In fact, because all humans originated from Africa, we’re all
    black to some degree or another. And don’t give me any of that “Um, what?” nonsense that you gave me in reply to a previous post. You know what I’m getting at. If you don’t, then have one of your Ph.D. in Anthropology buddies read this for you. And by the way, they’ll probably put it in different words, but when they do read this, they will highly likely agree with me. If they don’t, then they’re just as lost out there in La-La Land as you are. Here, let me rock your Lilliputian universe one last time by asking this rhetorical question: were Adam and Eve black?  

  11. A sure sign that an argument lacks anything in the way of substance is a detour down the ad hominen road. I could bite but I won’t.
    Again, Barack Obama isn’t black. Kristin, Talula, Smooth Thug and anyone else who says differently is invited to define race, and then define what makes a person black (or white).
    Thus far I’ve read about things like phenotype, traffic tickets, flour, sugar and bones in Africa.
    I asked Talula point blank what makes her black. I’m still awaiting her answer.
    I asked Kristin about her forebears and she quoted some “facts” that practically any “African American” could quote and then tried to lecture me about the ignorance of slaves.
    Now Smooth Thug is copying and pasting a bunch of information that may or may not be true and trying to gloat on some read it and weep sh*t? You might want to give this a read:
    What you and others who invoke the African Orgin theory refuse to acknowledge (or simply don’t know) is that the fossil evidence currently available is insufficient to definitively prove or disprove where man orginated.
    However, fossil evidence that was discovered in Germany in the late 1980s was determined to be roughly 17.5 million years old. That’s more than one million years older than fossil evidence from a similar species found in East Africa, which had been thought to be the oldest. In other words, the evidence that is available says that primate lineage of the great apes appeared first in Eurasia, not Africa.
    Smooth Thug, you don’t really want it with me when it comes to knowledge of factual information. You just got sonned and you’ll get sonned the next time you quote some outdated sh*t in a discussion about race or human origin with me.
    Now, so we’re all clear, let’s review:
    1. To anyone who wants to give it a shot, define race.
    2. Talula, what makes you black?
    3. Kristin, since you put it out there, what’s the name of the slave ship your grandmother’s people arrived to the Colonies/States via, what year did it land and where did it land? I mean, if you know about flour, sugar and the like, you have to know this information.
    4. Smooth Thug, you need more people.

  12. You sir are once again off topic, trying to prove your superiority by:
    your white heritage
    you definition of race,
    your knowledge of your origins,
    superfluous use of adjectives and vocabulary.
    All of which neither proves or disproves Barack Obama’s blackness.
    You are confusing race with ethnicity and cultural identity. That said: WE salute our first Black president, WE love Michelle Obama, WE are proud of our slave ancestors, WE are black because of our African ancestry, our shared history, and shared struggle in the US. You can argue race science all you want but that’s never been what this post has been about. YOU can be whatever you want.
    I do question your ALWAYS mentioning your white ancestry as some sort of superior quality. Give me a break. You should be proud of who you are. No one is saying that you shouldn’t but don’t expect others to really care about that. Stop trying to drag President Obama down your self-loathing path, ambiguously cultural path.

  13. also to address my ad hominen response. You assume your argument is factual which it is not for all of the afore mentioned reasons. You have to do more than throw in some philosphy 101 vocabulary to impress up in here. We are not that pretentious.

  14. Wow, Talula. You HATIN’!!! LMAO!!!!!! I’m literally laughing aloud as I type this, because for someone who always –and wrongly– pushes the hating angle, to witness you be so clearly guilty of it is quite a treat. Thank you. Seriously. 🙂
    As for my vocabulary (and philosophy ?????), what would you have me do? Dumb down what I say so I can avoid being labeled pretentious? And how are you going to try to clown me about my vocabualry when you’re using words such as “superfluous”? You simply cannot be for real right now.
    Second, I don’t “always” mention my forebears but I’m not going to not mention them. You made the mistake of labeling me confused and I clarified that I know precisely who I am. In addition, I know what race is: a social construct. Confused? How? Oh, wait, I know: because we don’t agree and name calling is the best you can come up with.
    Third, self-loathing? I wish you could hear me laughing right now. I’ve no reason to hate or even dislike myself for who I am as a person or as a descendant of my mother’s and father’s people. Your problem –and you’re hardly alone– is that you don’t really know who you are. Separately, you struggle to explain what makes you black. If I feel superior because I do know who I am, would it be fair to say that people who don’t feel inferior? I know this much: they are confused–by definition.
    The bottom line is that you’re wrong and you’re mad because you can’t argue and insult your way out of it. Do better.

  15. I got nothing but love for you LH! I look for forward to your outrageous comments and flawed logic. LOL
    As for self-loathing, that may have been a bit harsh. I wish to retract that statement. We just disagree, but you won’t accept that. You want us to disagree and you be right and that’s not happening.

  16. Also, I meant Logic 101, but I have had a formidable education, (as I am sure you have) and many of my classes taught logic and reasoning with philosophy. I am loving this debate. I don’t mean for any of it to be personal. For a person, with “rough edges” I thought you could handle it.

  17. @LH
    Wow Taula, I guess some people just don’t know when to say when.
    As far as my relatives go I will tell you this much LH you got me thinking about something I have not thought about since junior high. My family arrived here via Philapheida that’s about as far my gran can make out on the writing so until she mails me the family book that will have to suffice.
    Now on to the meat in potatoes I see you have yet to define what your white heritage is. If I was a confused and soul searching for a place of acceptance then I would to choose an arbitrary argument (i.e. lineage) to avoid the original topic.
    You went to an HBCU, was it an attempt to get to know your black hand side better or did the white side not except you because you looked “too ethnic”. Let me assure you I have relatives who could pass for white yet they are comfortable and secure in themselves that they don’t find the need to hide and cloak themselves in their invisible shield called biraicalness, in an attempt to find acceptance.
    Yet I will ask you again to define your whiteness. Do you have a deeper meaning or is it something as arbitrary as white is simple people who are of the pigmentally challenged variety.
    You are confused. You don’t know who you belong to. You say you know who you are but you really don’t. You have allowed your biracial status to rule your ability to realize that other people (i.e. Barack) are comfortable with identifying was black. If you are not and it certainly appears that way then don’t but don’t knock someone elses decision.
    I am also curious as to how well do your mother and father’s families get along. Do you all go to family reunions as one big United Nations? Or do you cling to biracial because that’s where you are stuck somewhere in between because you don’t feel fully accepted by either side. In the white community do they except you as one of their own or do they consider you the brother with the white daddy. Let me assure you LH we in the black community rarely turn people away. Your black card may have to be inspected a litter closer after this conversation but you are still welcomed.

  18. @LH
    Also LH you have yet to say how knowing your lineage makes you know who you are? How does that help you to define who LH is. How does LH define who he is? I will give you this lineage is important in one regard it gives you stories to tell. However, lineage does not make a man a man. Your lineage and I am sure it is colorful did not mold you. Don’t get it twisted.

  19. “Gloat”, LH? That’s a lot of nerve from someone who’s pompous himself. Look, I’ve tried the site you gave and I can only come up with the “National Geographic Store”. But I’ll keep trying. By the way, German fossils that are “17.5 million years old”? Big deal. But did this “primate lineage” develop into early humans as in Africa? That’s what I’m getting at.

  20. I’m still trying, LH. I will also access the library at Long Beach State to see what, if anything, I can dig up about hominid fossils in Germany. Tangle with you, LH? That gave me a little chuckle too. No, no, no. The ones you don’t tangle with are ones from Stanford and from Berkely. If you should ever cross paths with one of them, it would behoove you to stay out of their way.

  21. Hey, y’all, I’ve hit pay dirt. LH, your site refers to Homo Georgicus. He was the first to exit Africa. He headed north until he ran into the Caucasus Mountains. He did he get there? Paleoenvironmentalists have determined that the flora and fauna of East Africa extended that far north at one time. He merely followed an environment thay was familiar to him. I stand unmoved by you… humans originaated in Africa and Barack Obama is black. Nice try, young man… but no cigar.

  22. Opps! My bad. The question should read, How did he (Homo Georgicus) get there? And I meant “originated ” not originaated. I chuckle at myself too sometimes. AS I said, Homo Georgicus was following the plants and animals that were familiar to him. At the dig where his remains were found, the remains of a rhino were found as well.

  23. @ST,
    Man! That’s all I can say. Dedication. ST, even with glaring evidence somepeople (who shall remain nameless)just won’t get it. Good job to you for finding that information. I think people forget that all of earth’s land mass used to be connected at one point. So it is obvious because of this travel would have been easier during this time. But hey what do we know.

  24. LH:
    This source places the ago of Mr. Mojo man of Indonesia at 1.4 million yeras old.: not old enough. And besides, becuase it was hard to place him into a species, they just shoved him in Homo Erectus just for the sake of putting that matter out of the way. That is soooo scientific!
    The site you provided puts the ago of Mojo Man at 1.8 million. Until the technology used to determine age is improved, 1.8 million is only a guess.
    Journal of Human Evolution.
    Vol. 50, Issue 4, April 2006, pages 431-451.
    My sources are more up to date than yours, by the way.

  25. LH:
    My comments on Mojo Man(as I call the Mojokerto skull) is in reply to the site you provided. Nice try, again. But no cigar.

  26. No, LH is not confused at all. He’s convinced himself about the “sole” ingredient that makes him worthwhile. I honor him for teaching black folks this is what we get for exalting people over that “sole” ingredients. Keep on keepin’ on LH. This is the “sole” thing I love about you.

Leave a Reply