“If you had a choice of color, which one would you choose my brother?”
– Curtis Mayfield – 1969
In the official U.S. 2010 head count, President Barack Obama provided one answer to the question about his ethnic background: African-American. Since the option was introduced in 2000, the census figures indicate that the country has 5.2 million multiracial individuals.
Americans who check more than one box for race now make up 5 percent of the minority population. It’s of note that Obama didn’t check multiple boxes that were available on the form, or choose the option that allowed him to elaborate on his racial heritage. He simply ticked the box that said “Black, African-American, or Negro.”
Though he checked the census “Black” box, is Obama “Black” like you and me? To date, Obama has paid no attention to Blacks and their economic challenges.
African-American voters are rooted in the belief that Obama’s platform and persona represent “real Black Americans.” They both may have run the streets of Chicago; however, it’s doubtful Obama knows about the late Curtis Mayfield and what he represented. An American singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthem-like music, Mayfield recorded and produced “message music” during the 1960s and 1970s.
The “not-Black-enough” question started when then-senator and presidential candidate Obama refused to attend Tavis Smiley’s State of Black America forum.
Smiley suggested that was “the necessary Black vetting space” Black America required.
Now, in his second term, voices of dissension about the Obama administration grow louder. But, the masses of African-Americans are beguiled that Obama identifies as “Black.” Loyalists argue that “he married Black,” worked among poor people on Chicago’s South Side, and still lives there, and that given the escape valve of biracialism he chooses to identify as Black because of the beauty he sees in his darker self.
Each time he’s run for president, Blacks have given Obama their loyalty and votes, lock, stock, and barrel, but idealistically accept Obama’s lack of attention to Black communities and their economic plight.
This mindset has been regressive for Blacks as they foolishly ignore the continuance of traditional discrimination practices and have willingly integrated themselves into America’s social and political mainstream.
Blacks refuse to recognize America as two distinct “nations” – one White, one Black – and acknowledge the needs of our race and people and move collectively to shape political agendas and platforms toward our advantage.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.