Mixed Messenger: Obama, bi-racial / Hapa America

hapachart.jpgReporter Peggy Orenstein discuss the role of race, racial identity and Obama (with Obama’s speech on race bringing up much discussion in America), as well as America’s growing, bi-racial nature. I thought Orenstein’s thoughts, as a parent of a bi-racial child, had some very interesting points to make:

“Most Americans watching Barack Obama‘s campaign, even those who don’t support him, appreciate the historic significance of an African-American president. But for parents like me, Obama, as the first biracial candidate, symbolizes something else too: the future of race in this country, the paradigm and paradox of its simultaneous intransigence and disappearance… More than anything, though, Hapas remind us that, while racism is real, “race” is a shifting construct. Consider: Would Obama still be seen as “black enough” if the wife by his side were white? And don’t get my husband started on why Tiger Woods — whose mother is three-quarters Asian and whose father was one-quarter Chinese and half African-American — is rarely hailed as the first Asian-American golf superstar…

During Obama’s campaign, Obama has certainly faced criticism that he was not “black enough” or too “black.” Will race matter in America in 50, 100, 150, 200 years from now as we increasingly inter-marry, assuming humanity can survive that long? Genetically, Tiger Woods is more “Asian” than he is “black” – but from the color of his skin, he is judged to be more black than “Asian.” (Of course, how Tiger Woods self-identifies himself as is his personal choice.)

In the future, will Americans truly be color blind and the concept of race, as we know it today, be foreign? Let me know your thoughts on this!

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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