Paul R. Lehman,President Obama, biracial versus black, not a problem

November 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Posted in African American, American Racism, blacks, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, integregation, minority, Non-Hispanic white, Prejudice, President Obama, public education, Race in America, socioeconomics, U. S. Census, whites | 4 Comments
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In an Opinion article by Patrice Peck published in The Grio, “Biracial versus black: Thought leaders weigh in on the meaning of President Obama’s biracial heritage,” he ask the question of how to identify the president—biracial or black. What Peck and the “Thought leaders” are doing in attempting to answer that question is the same as beating a dead horse—counterproductive. The Western world, American society, and especially, African Americans have accepted the concepts of multiple biological races of human being as well as the concept of a black race and a white race as factual. If we are to educate ourselves and our children with accurate, factual, and up-to-date information, then we need to abandon the concepts of races, black and white.

In my latest book, America’s Race Matters: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color, I discuss the problems attendant to continuing to promote the false concepts of race and color. Most educated people know that race is a social construct, made-up like other myths– Santa Claus, Easter Rabbit, and Tooth Fairy. While society recognizes these latter myths as myths, they still want to hold on to the myth of races and color. Unfortunately, our changing world and society are forcing us to make adjustments to our concepts or become more confused and misinformed. With respect to African Americans, the willingness to accept the color identity given them by a slave-owning society to deny them a positive self-identity is way past due. We will be more specific about that issue later.

If we want to educate ourselves and our children about race, let us be factual—all human beings belong to one race, Homo sapiens. If some doubt exists about this fact, the people who subscribe to the Christian religion might want to reference in the Bible, Acts 17:24-26  which states  in part :”God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,…” (The bold print supplied by the writer). So, we are one people as for as God is concerned; so why not accept that concept?

We are not restricted to what the Bible says about being one race. The Human Genome Project mapped the Human DNA sequence in total. What the research tells us is that “we [human beings] are so much alike, that only our individuality separates us. For every group [ethnic group] assumption there are several exceptions that can be shown. While we [scientists] can identify your ancestry, DNA tells us that we share so much in common that any two individuals on earth can trace some common ancestry in six generations or less.” So now we can recognize that by accepting the false concept of multiple biological races, we invite the acceptance of additional false concepts of racism, racial, mixed-race, and yes, even biracial. So, when the race experts and intellectuals continue to promote the concept of races, they are not presenting factual, accurate, and current information. President Obama is neither biracial nor black; he is African American.

Now the acceptance of the term black or black race or white or white race falls in the same category as does the term race. The term race was determined by world renowned scientists in 1945 to be ineffective as a social term( see UNESCO). In other words, the word race should not be used as a form of identity as in black race and white race. Instead, the term ethnicity or ethnic groups would be more accurate and certainly less confusion. The Census Bureau has discovered the confusion created by not defining the words race and ethnicity from the data received in the 2010 survey. Still, they refuse to drop the term race; so the confusion will not only continue, but also grow. Part of the problem with using colors to identify people is that it does not work and actually does them a disservice. No one comes to America as a black or white person; they must use their cultural or geographical identity. Once here, they can evaluate the positives and negatives associated with changing their identity. Most European Americans select a white identity; most people of color retain their cultural or geographical identity because they see no value in being identified as black. Eighty per cent of the world’s population is people of color, all shades; twenty per cent of the world’s population would be considered “white” in America. In America the color white has positive social as well as historical value, the color black does not except for the African American community.

President Obama is not black because black is a color, not an identity. To underscore this point we might ask the questions: what language do black people speak, from what country do they reside, what culture do they exhibit, and what religion do they embrace? We can ask the same questions of so-called white people as well. What we discover in the responses is a lack of certainty and understanding relative to race. Technically, all people are of African ancestry, but those people of color living in American with African ancestry are more correct in referring to themselves as African Americans rather than black. The people who identify themselves as white can more accurately refer to themselves as European Americans.

So, if Mr. Peck is fortunate enough to have children, he should tell them that President Obama is an African American, not a biracial or black person. They, his children can identify themselves in a manner that suits them, except for black or white, because the colors say nothing about who they are; they are merely colors, and not accurate colors at that. Society does not care what African Americans call themselves, so it is up to the African American community to start divorcing itself from the term black which was given them during slavery. Although the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies did much to change the negative concept of the term black, it did not change anything in the European American community. The time for up-dating  identity is here. America is rapidly turning brown and when it does, color will be insignificant.



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  1. When presidential candidate Barack Obama presented himself to the black community, he was not to be believed. It strained credulity to think that a man sporting the same rigorously managed haircut as Jay-Z, a man who was a hard-core pickup basketball player, and who was married to a dark-skinned black woman from the South Side, could coax large numbers of white voters into the booth. Obama’s blackness quotient is often a subject of debate. (He himself once joked, while speaking to the National Association of Black Journalists in 2007, “I want to apologize for being a little bit late, but you guys keep on asking whether I’m black enough.”) But despite Obama’s post-election reluctance to talk about race, he has always displayed both an obvious affinity for black culture and a distinct ability to defy black America’s worst self-conceptions.

  2. The topic of race in Brazil is complex. A Brazilian child was never automatically identified with the racial type of one or both parents, nor were there only two categories to choose from. Between a pure black and a very light mulatto, more than a dozen racial categories were acknowledged, based on combinations of hair color, hair texture, eye color, and skin color. These types grade into each other like the colors of the spectrum, and no one category stands significantly isolated from the rest. That is, race has referred to appearance, not heredity.

  3. Under a geographical microscope what is understood as “race” in one society is not the same in another. Historically, In every instances, European self-interest is the overriding factor regardless of if it is “race whitening” in Brazil or “coloreds” in South Africa or the “one-drop rule ” of America. In every instance “race” theories have been constructed to services the interest of White/European people.

    • Thank you for your comment. Your understanding and conception of the term race is not quite accurate. If you have the opportunity, please read one of my last two books: America’s Race Problem, A Practical Guide to Understanding Race in America; or America’s Race Matters, Returning the Gifts of Race and Color. In both books I reference the fact that world reknown scientists from UNESCO made the determination that the term race was not acceptable for reasons of social identity. They offered the terms Ethnic Group and Ethnicity. They underscored the fact that only one human race exists, not many. Today, the science of DNA has shown that all human beings are 99.99% alike. If America and other countries continue to use race incorrectly then we have the responsibility to correct them and ourselves.

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