Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, August 18, 2008
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama used his own name and heritage to make a point about change at a fundraiser that raised a record $7.8 million for his campaign in San Francisco Sunday.
The Illinois senator said it is “a testament to the American spirit that I’m even standing here before you” as the Democratic Party’s presumed nominee, because some Americans are “still getting past” his name, which he said some consider funny.
The Hawaii-born Obama’s references to his mixed heritage—he is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas—comes just a week before the Democrats open their national nominating convention in Denver and after weeks of increasingly tough attacks from the campaign of Republican John McCain. Just weeks ago, McCain’s campaign accused Obama of playing the race card for mentioning his race at a campaign event.
Obama told the group—which included many Indian and Pakistani immigrants—that he is not only familiar with their cultures—but also proud of his lifelong association with them.
“Not only do I think I’m a desi, but I’m a desi,” he said, using a colloquial term that describes South Asian immigrants. The remark was greeted with laughs. “I’m a homeboy.”
But “the only way we are going to move beyond these current challenges . . . is not to try to prevent further immigration and integration of our communities,” but “to recognize that you are the future.”