Six of One, Half Dozen of a Brother

So Obama has become the first brother with a legitimate shot at the (increasingly-less-than) White House. My how far we’ve come… Except, oh wait, Obama is half white! Has this little factoid been completely forgotten? I grant you, there aren’t many articles about BHO that don’t mention how he is the product of a black guy from Kenya and a white chick from Kansas. And yet, somehow, in these very same articles, we are told that Obama is aiming to become “the first African American to be a major party’s presidential nominee” (MSNBC).

First of all, don’t even get me started on the term “African American.” This bit of innacurate, elitist, bullshit PC propaganda is so far past its prime, it’s attracting vultures. It’s such a widely inclusive characterization that any real-world application has become virtually useless. As it stands, any individual meeting the following criteria might be called “African American”: 1) Someone born in Africa who moved to the United States and became a resident and/or citizen (for example, those two shining examples of African American culture, Charlize Theron and Dave Matthews); 2) Someone born in Africa who moved to any of the other 34 countries in North and South America and became a resident/citizen; 3) A resident/citizen of the Americas whose immediate ancestors came from Africa; 4) A resident/citizen of the Americas whose great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother or grandfather came from Africa; 5) Anyone with very dark skin (including Jamaicans, Haitians, etc.). And the list goes on.[1]

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I don’t appreciate an individual’s desire to associate him- or herself with a rich cultural heritage, but if we’re going to make it a matter of national regulation and measurement, let’s at least try to be accurate. What’s the point of labeling someone “African American” if the next person in line is merely “Caucasian”? I’ll grant you the theoretical (though unlikely) possibility that the more darkly pigmented lad or lassie ahead of you may have some current or recent connection with Africa, but has anyone ever heard of freakin’ Caucasia?![2] Let’s call a spade a spade here (no racism intended): The only reason we have terms for different ethnicities is to allow us to deduce via a single adjective the approximate color of someone’s skin. (Of course, even racists will agree that skin color isn’t always the most reliable method for arbitrarily denigrating an entire subculture. For example, there are plenty of so-called “Hispanics” out there whose skin tones are actually darker than various light-skinned blacks, so how’s a guy who loathes porch monkeys but loves wetbacks supposed to figure out from across the street whether or not to call his buddies over for a good old-fashioned hate crime?)

Nomenclatural irrelevancies aside, there is still the question of my original source of annoyance, which is the simple fact that, in our country’s hurry to fall all over itself in self-congratulatory excess for nominating the first major party “African American” presidential candidate, we seem to have forgotten that this achievement is really only half as momentous as we’re making it out to be. Yes, of course I understand the historical and symbolic significance of this moment, and I can and do appreciate the potential social and political ramifications this outcome could have for millions — if not billions — of people around the world, but why can’t we acknowledge all of the above and still be honest about the fact that, if Barack’s pigmentation was a few shades darker, or if he was only slightly less well-spoken, or even if he had the same skin tone and the same degree of loquaciousness but happened to have two black parents instead of just one, we probably wouldn’t be having this national dialogue? Maybe I’m completely out of the loop, but it seems blindingly obvious to me that Obama was (and is) electable precisely because he is a gateway minority. With any luck, he will prove a crucial stepping stone in the path to stronger, more hardcore minorities, which is why it is our job to ensure that Big Brother doesn’t get it in its head to make him illegal.

On a related note, because I know that a lot of folks find it difficult to go cold turkey in an effort to rid themselves of centuries of inbred biases, I have developed a new medicated adhesive I call the BHO Racism Patch®. The BHO Racism Patch (or “BHORP,” for short) has been specially designed to deliver a steady dose of charming, slightly-edgy, but still non-threatening ethnicity at regular intervals to anyone who tends to shiver involuntarily when encountering a group of black people on the sidewalk. Worn discreetly in the middle of the forehead (or directly under your soon-to-be-bleeding heart), the BHORP let’s people know that, “Yes, your dermal layer worries me, but it no longer causes me to avoid eye contact with you while making myself as small as possible in an effort to pass by unnoticed.”

[1] I assume it does, anyway, but I’m sure as hell done contributing to it.
[2] The answer is NO, unless you’re confusing it with the small, geopolitical region located between Europe and Asia called “Caucasus” (made up of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and part of Southern Russia) whose residents really are Caucasian. But you wouldn’t do that, would you?

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One Response to Six of One, Half Dozen of a Brother

  1. rae says:

    Did you coin “BOHRP”? I can imagine it catching on with Caucasian people. By the way, are you Hawaiian? I’m just guessing by your username, but I also get the joke of it.

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