Black Americans are cool, at best, in their support of Senator Barack Obama. Central to that lack of enthusiasm is the criticism that he is not really black in the specific African American sense of the term. It is repeatedly noted that his father is Kenyan, his mother is white, he did not grow up in the
This line of critique is myopic and counterproductive. What is more disturbing is that it reveals a quiet scorn among black Americans for foreign born black people. On a popular talk show in
The reality is that the changing demographic face of the country has altered the face of black
The quiet rebuke of Obama is disturbing on another front. Several issues that are critically important to African Americans can be undermined by the promotion of such specious squabbling. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, for example, noted that the percentage of black students with foreign roots at the most selective American universities is high and climbing. That has caused some critics of affirmative-action to suggest that it is not benefiting those American black students it was intended to serve. The position some black Americans are taking with Senator Obama, when applied in other areas, could lead to ugly ends. They could conclude – with the enthusiastic support of right wing conservatives – that, yes, it is not supporting black American students. In the current political climate the obvious outcome would be renewed efforts, with the purported blessing of black Americans, to end affirmative action programs altogether.
Conquered by division at its textbook best.
This is not the time for black people in the most powerful nation in the world to develop such a narrow view of cultural identity. Broadening our identity may make addressing the conditions of Sudanese in
Black Americans ought to be critical of Senator Obama in the same manner that they ought to be critical of any other candidate. To criticize him based on his nearness to the black American persona is pure folly. Black people in