Posted on June 10, 2008

Is Barack Obama Black or Biracial?

Jason Carroll, CNN, June 9, 2008

The 2000 U.S. Census was the first time Americans were allowed to identify themselves as “multiracial,” and more than six million people checked more than one box in the race and ethnicity category.

Included in the multiracial category is the Democratic presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama. With a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, Obama is the nation’s first biracial candidate for president. The media, however, have continually called Obama the nation’s first major party “black candidate,” saying he could make history as the first “black president.” But is that accurate?

A columnist examining Obama‘s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: white + black = black.

For me, that said it all.

There are some who point out Obama is just as white as he is black. He may be the nation’s first black president, but he would also be the nation’s 44th white president.

“He can’t say, ‘I’m a white guy named Barack Hussein Obama,’ nobody’s going to buy that,” says cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis. “We’re not ready for that.”

This is an issue that has sparked debate not only in our newsroom, but also among my friends and family. Most Americans see Obama as a black man, and he identifies himself as a black man. But there are some who will argue that by labeling Obama as a “black candidate,” we are all ignoring a vital and legitimate side of his life