In an interview for The Atlantic with Ta-Nehisi Coates, President Obama’s take on race added to the list of bizarre things he’s said over the years. According to our outgoing president, “if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.”
Coates asked Obama, “I wonder how you came to think of yourself as black and why,” after a lengthy commentary about his upbringing that, frankly, could have been boiled down to the simple fact that Obama is mixed race — both white and black.
Obama responded: “Well, part of my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality.”
Okay wait, I had to stop it there. You can call just about anything a “social construct,” but there is a biological reality no matter how you look at it.
Obama continued his answer: “And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.”
Wow, I didn’t know it was that simple. If someone “perceives” you as something, that is what you are. So much for telling young people not to allow bullies to define who they are…
Remember Rachel Dolezal? The white woman who pretends to be black will surely be happy to hear about this!
Apparently Obama takes the “one-drop theory” a step further and acknowledges the Dolezals of the world who want to identify as anything they want to no matter what the biological reality is.
Hey, by Obama’s logic, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was perfectly fine when she claimed Native American heritage despite actually having very little Native American blood.
If perception is all it takes, millions of young people applying for college can now check whatever box they want to on their applications next year. Maybe all they need is someone to vouch that they “perceive them a certain way” to corroborate it…
Obama’s new logic might complicate affirmative action since now everyone can be whatever they want, so long as others perceive them a certain way.
I wonder how many people have to perceive you a certain way for it to be true? Is there some sort of panel that decides this?
Plenty of people “perceive” Obama as white, because, you know, he is biologically half white and all. Apparently their perceptions don’t matter…
Obama noted in the interview that he “always felt as if being black was cool” and discussed when he decided to “root himself” in one race:
I think it was not until I was in high school that I started seeing complications around it, and I started to think about it explicitly. I wrote about this in my first book, but even when I started perceiving discrimination, or racism, or just the disadvantages of being a minority, that felt more like a challenge than something to fear. I think probably the final element of this is, when I moved to the mainland, that was the first time where I confronted what at that time, and to some degree to this day, was the segregation of communities. And I did have to make, I think, a conscious choice to root myself physically and professionally in the African American community. And, again, this is something I’ve written about.
Interesting that he acknowledges the downsides, but not the advantages available to him as a black man that wouldn’t be available to him if he chose to identify as white. I’m guessing that weighed on his decision.
There’s no reason why he couldn’t have identified as mixed race, which is what he is, but he decided to go with one side and ignore the other — despite the fact that the side he chose abandoned him as a child and the side he ignores raised him…
He also chose to continue, throughout his adult life and presidency, to push this racist, identity politics-obsessed mindset that has Left this country far more divided after his eight years in office.
H/T Weasel Zippers