An intelligent guy that I follow on Twitter asked me if I’d read this article titled “Fear of a Black President” and give my opinion on it.
By the end, I had become a fan of the writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates. His research skills, expert use of historical references, and willingness to be a living part of the societal landscape about which he writes earned my admiration as well as my unwavering interest in the article. I whole-heartedly agree with his statement that “For most of American history, our political system was premised on two conflicting facts—one, an oft-stated love of democracy; the other, an undemocratic white supremacy inscribed at every level of government.”
He points to the proof of this statement by referring to the following Congressional declaration made in 1790:
“All free white persons who have, or shall migrate into the United States, and shall give satisfactory proof, before a magistrate, by oath, that they intend to reside therein, and shall take an oath of allegiance, and shall have resided in the United States for one whole year, shall be entitled to all the rights of citizenship.” To ensure that no person of color could gain entry into this world of privilege, the one-drop rule was created.
Acceptance of the one drop rule was forced upon the black community, usually violently. This twisted eligibility requirement for membership in, and protection and support from, the black community has, it seems, been even further twisted. A new requirement seems to be that for one to be sufficiently black for inclusion, one must have suffered racist persecution and discrimination in some form. How else can the full horror of institutionalized racism be really understood?
President Obama was representative of more Americans than any other President in history because he is both black and white. However, due to the racist one-drop rule, communities based on skin color still exist, rather than a single human community. These communities lay claim to the talents and abilities of all people born based on their eligibility for membership, which is the color of their skin. Then, thus separated, they compete against one another in a race in which, it should be clear to all participants by now, there are no real winners.
Despite “birther” objections, had President Obama been the grandson of a former slave rather than the son of a Kenyan, I don’t believe he would have been elected. White Americans are too afraid of the justified rage of the descendants of slaves, and of their ascent to power being used for revenge. His having had a white mother also reassured white America that he would be able to at least partially understand the world from their perspective.
In my view, white Americans are congratulating themselves for having overcome racism by electing a black man. However, he has only been deemed black instead of white because of their own racist rules. In my view, it is those rules that must be challenged. Let’s all try being humans– nurtured and appreciated by the entire human community.