Well, well, well—Rupert Murdock has announced that President Obama is not a “real black president,” and that if Ben Carson were elected that he would be the “first real black president.” Where do I start on this one—short of writing a book? Is Murdock casting aspersions on the black-white sexual relationship between President Obama’s mother and father—suggesting that his ethnicity is “muddled” by genetic “race mixing?” Murdock’s commentary also included this—that a “real black president” could address the “racial divide” in this country? Oh, boy, again where do I begin?
Let’s take two examples, maybe three. Let’s start with Frederick Douglass, born in 1818. Douglass’ father was white, his mother a slave. His “half-whiteness” didn’t save him from the slave auction block. If you have read Douglass, “My Bondage and My Freedom,” you know his story of being enslaved, taking brutal beating from his master—until day his whipped his master’s butt. Douglass escaped, then went on to become one of the greatest orators on the evils of slavery. Was Douglass, “really black,” with that white daddy? As the line in “Cotton Comes to Harlem” said, “Was he black enough for you?” Or, we can look at John Brown. Remember his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Brown was born in 1800, a white abolitionist who believed that the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery was by armed insurrection. I wonder who is daddy was, but just looking at him he looks “real white.” But his politics were “real black.”
Who’s black and who’s black enough has been a continuing theme in American history. Being an “Uncle Tom” has been erroneously used to suggest that a black person was somehow not “acting like a black person should” in relation to white people. Remember terms such as “Oreo,” meaning black on the outside, (acting) white on the inside? Then there is the “acting white” reference used by black folks to cut down educated black folks who know better than to say, “I seen,” “I done went,” “I had came,” and a whole slew of other bad grammar—or black who use more than one syllable words. But Murdock’s swipe at President Obama is really curious. President Obama has caught it “coming and going,” on the issue of being too silent on race issues, or the “racial divide” in America, and going too far with some his comments about recent police misconduct in the black community. So which is it? Is this President “black enough,” or acting “too white.”
Why is it that white people get a pass on the question of whether they are “really white people?” And just what is a real white person? Can we start with the obvious—no race mixing in their family line? Well “up jumped jack” on that one because there are some deep family secrets in every family line, mine included. Come to find out that my great-grandfather was white. He had twins, a boy and a girl, by my black great grandmother—of course he skipped town. No one knows to this day what happened to the twin girl, but the above picture is my great grandfather, Clarence Roberson and his wife. Am I black, or some version of a quadroon, octoroon, or the product of some “black-white” race mixing? Can we really “go there” on who’s black based on who they date or marry? If so, what does this say for most of the NFL, NBA, and just about every sport except the NHL, where black men increasing marry non-black women—or at least they don’t appear black? So for the rest of the NFL season will America be watching a bunch of black men are not “really black” because of “those white wives” back home?
So what exactly did Murdock mean by his comment that President Obama is not really the first black president? Of course Murdock is not the only person who has made this type statement. Another black person said the same thing—also referencing the President’s black-white ancestry. So what made Frederick Douglass obviously black down through history given his white father? What made John Brown obviously white although he put his life in a noose for planning an armed insurrection to overthrow slavery? In terms of commitment and courage of conviction John Brown was “blacker” than most black folks. So what makes a person “really white?” Skin color? Well we know that’s 99 percent of the equation. But what about “white skinned” folks who understand the shallowness of putting folks in boxes based on the color of “the house they live in?” Look at this world right now, most conflicts are among folks who are not dark skinned or considered black. Look at the refugee crisis where “light skinned, straight haired folks, are roaming around homeless and desperate. What does skin color have to do with this crisis? I guess the distinction is that they are not really “white people.” What does it mean to say that a person is not “white enough” or not “really white?” Same question for not being “black enough,” or not “really black?” See the real issue now?
Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.