What is black? Who is black? Is Obama black?


Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.


“Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality. But this is a distinction so extremely hard to make that the West has not been able to make it yet. And at the center of this dreadful storm, this vast confusion, stand the black people of this nation, who must now share the fate of a nation that has never accepted them, to which they were brought in chains. Well, if this is so, one has no choice but to do all in one’s power to change that fate, and at no matter what risk-eviction, imprisonment, torture, death. For the sake of one’s children, in order to minimize the bill that they must pay, one must be careful not to take refuge in any delusion-and the value placed on the color of the skin is always and everywhere and forever a delusion.” –James Baldwin

The political organization around racial identity is a political reality in America whose necessity has not abated. It is the reason for, and the continuance of, the Congressional Black Caucus. To make it as plain as I can, we are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, pluralistic society that is economically, politically, and socially stratified by race and class. We understand the negative role race and class play in the lives of racial minorities. To pretend to believe otherwise is a simple denial of reality that is not borne out by any facts now in existence.

All of the men pictured above served as members of congress and all are black. We come in many shapes and sizes and in all colors. Barack Obama, despite the naysayers in our community is, and always shall be, a black man. The arguments about who raised him and whether or not he is a descendent of slaves are irrelevant and silly. The brotha may be running for President but stick him on a D.C. street corner late at night wearing a hoodie and some jeans and see how many cabs pass him by. He is black. Period. He understands what that means and because he does, he fuels my anger when he steps away from that reality to placate a power structure that devalues our lives and demeans our dignity.

He understands that torture is not acceptable but endorses a Mayor that allowed 192 black men to be tortured in direct contravention to the Geneva Conventions. He understands how race can be used to distort justice because he has passed a law, which mandated that murder confessions be videotaped in Illinois and passed a law requiring statistics to be complied on traffic stops to combat racial profiling. One cannot advocate legislative remedies like this without recognizing the unequal treatment and disparate sentencing inherent in our criminal injustice system.

He is running for President and anybody who does so is on a tremendously galactic ego trip. He deserves to be scrutinized and his motivations examined like any other contender. He will receive no leniency from me. The Presidency’s power to destroy is legendary. The current occupant is a great example of an unprepared, unfocused, and dangerous ideologue. I have an obligation to my readers to hold that uppermost in my thoughts as I contemplate the political landscape.

Moreover, I have no interest in using the platform of this blog to deny America’s unapologetic racism nor those who ignore and perpetuate it. Barack Obama has made several conscious decisions to step away from this reality in an effort to market himself and to “cross over.” I don’t feel any need to be quiet about it and have no obligation to muffle my disquiet to make anyone else feel comfortable.

I am sorry that my musings are unsettling to some, but I lack the capacity to whitewash torture and police brutality. I am not about to take up the delusions of my white brothas and sistahs regarding race this campaign season because I have far too many delusions of my own to contend with.


15 thoughts on “What is black? Who is black? Is Obama black?

  1. Here’s my comment, bro:


    Title of the Article “Black Leaders? or Leading Blacks?”

    And Obama got dissed for making his announcement on the same day and time as the State of the Black Union. Although brotha Tavis tried to put a good face on his absence, folks like Dr. Julia Hare, Al Sharpton and Rep. Keith Ellison, not to mention Cornel West and Lerone Bennett, Jr., weren’t having it.

    Steve Gilliard has already stated on his blog that if this group of Black Intelligencia writes off Obama, he’s toast.

  2. rikyrah

    SB, at least we agree on Obama being Black. But, do admit that you add a Black Tax to him. Would you remotely be as upset if Hillary had gotten the Daley endorsement? Or would you have said it was good politics for The Borg Queen?

    And, I wanna know how he, with the highest progressive rating of all the Senators running…can’t seem to satisfy folks?

  3. rikyrah,

    Endorsing a man who turned a blind eye to torture is not O.K. Turning your back on a sistah who refuses to excuse torture is not O.K. If you want to call that a black tax, so be it.

  4. rikyrah,

    Chris Owens is a wonderful, opptomistic, and bright guy. I would have given serious consideration to voting for him. However, his perspective on Obama omits several things and on this matter, we disagree.

    For the last time, I will not not overlook the fact that Obama endorsed a Mayor for re-election who turned a blind eye to torture. TORTURE IS NOT O.K. TORTURE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. ENDORSING ANOTHER FOUR YEARS OF DALEY IS A DEAL BREAKER FOR ME.

  5. rikyrah


    Then why don’t you come down on all the other Black Congressmen from Illinois who stand side-by-side Mayor Daley. Is Jesse Jackson, Jr. still your boy? Bobby Rush? You wrote once that you hoped the Jackson would rise in the leadership of the House. Is he now disqualified, because I don’t see him throwing fundraisers for Brown or Walls.

  6. rikyrah,

    I am very disappointed in them all, especially Rush. However, Jesse isn’t endorsing Daley. His sexism regarding Ms. Dorothy isn’t attractive either. I have noticed it and I don’t like it. He also is supporting Obama which I understand, but still don’t like. I noted Rush’s ridiculous endorsement of Daley in a post about a week or so ago.

    There is a certain bankruptcy of ideas in all of our so-called black leaders that is troubling. I have noted, for the record that the political class of Chicago is corrupt and that Jesse Jackson is delusional about Obama.

    However, Jesse, Jr is among the more progressive in the House and is young enough to contest the leadership. I’d rather have Jesse than a certified corporate whore like Rahm Emmanuel.

  7. JH

    I think that anyone running for president should be scrutinized. But, I hope that after all the scrutiny we realize that no one is a god and select the candidate we still feel can HUMANLY represent us the best. Politics can be a mess and you simply vote for the best candidate that presents himself. For me so far, based on issues that are important to me, Obama reigns, whatever the outcome. Still it is important to scrutinize and debate.

  8. JH

    I was referring to your statement on the endorsement of the Mayor (in my statement above – may not be clear) and I do think (like rikyrah) that you are adding a ‘black tax’ on him. I do not think that Obama agrees with torture however this is the ‘industry’ he works in and these are the people he has to work with to make the changes he has to make. Do you agree with everyone you have to work with at your job? Do you always make a point to make a point of it no matter what?



  10. sir john paul

    what are the circumsatances if Obam should be elected to rule . becuse people do ask:the posibility of Obma getting into white house

  11. First off pBarack Hussein Obama is 50% Caucasian from his mother’s side and 43.75% Arabic and 6.25% African Negro from his father’s side. While Barack Hussein Obama’s father was from Kenya , his father’s family was mainly Arabs.. Barack Hussein Obama’s father was only 12.5% African Negro and 87.5% Arab (his father’s birth certificate even states he’s Arab, not African Negro). From….and for more….go to…..http://www.arcadeathome.com/newsboy.phtml?Barack_Hussein_Obama_-_Arab-American,_only_6.25%25_African
    eople Obama is not black

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