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What color is Obama?

In plain English, Barack Obama is black. Although the offspring of a black and white parent, black is the dominant gene. To indicate his race on the U.S. Census he would more than likely put an x in the box next to ‘black’ or ‘of African decent’. That is pretty much the end of the discussion about his race.

Now, what ‘color’ is Barack Obama?

In plain English, Barack Obama is black. Although the offspring of a black and white parent, black is the dominant gene. To indicate his race on the U.S. Census he would more than likely put an x in the box next to ‘black‘ or ‘of African decent‘. That is pretty much the end of the discussion about his race.

Now, what ‘color‘ is Barack Obama? 

Here is where eRacism is a useful framework for understanding the difference between race and color. What makes them different is’ difference’. There are sets of social relations on the continent of Africa where he would be considered white and afforded the social status and privileges that have unfolded from a colonial past to present forms of internalized hatreds and external prejudices.

In the United States, the Southern states in particular, he would inherit the experience of difference from the legacy of slavery. The irony here, is that whether colonialism or chattel slavery, two different experiences of subordination and domination account for him being able to experience life as a ‘white’ person in one place and a ‘black’ person in another. The only choice he has in the matter is a social-economic choice, that is, to be able to afford to be in one place or the other.

President Barack Obama looks out of the "door of no return" during a tour of Goree Island, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Goree Island, Senegal. Goree Island is the site of the former slave house and embarkation point built by the Dutch in 1776, from which slaves were brought to the Americas. The "door of no return" was the entrance to the slave ships. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama looks out of the “door of no return” during a tour of Goree Island, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Goree Island, Senegal. Goree Island is the site of the former slave house and embarkation point built by the Dutch in 1776, from which slaves were brought to the Americas. The “door of no return” was the entrance to the slave ships. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Obama’s color in the United States is eRaced when he is seen in any number of African countries and some Latin American countries as ‘white’. When he is seen as ‘white’ along the lines that this concept is being developed in this blog, he is experiencing the ‘sameness’ of how blacks in parts of Africa were conditioned to treat and think about persons with skin not as dark as their own.

The Skin Color Paradox and the American Racial Order

Color preference is a cousin of racial prejudice, and like prejudice it is closely linked with the urge to obtain and keep power over others. Colorism differs from prejudice mainly by making distinctions within a nominal racial group instead of across groups. More simply, colorism is “the tendency to perceive or behave toward members of a racial category based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone”. – The Psychology of Colorism’

The past, be it colonialism or chattel slavery has unfolded into the present calibrations of social relations in such a way as to illustrate Obama with crayons of historically unique kinds of domination and subordination. The point to take away here is that even ‘race’ is ‘colored’ by historically specific domination and subordination. Knowledge and understanding of how diverse persons are colored by difference allows us to find our way out of cul-de-sacs in which dominant ‘discourses of race and racism’ are confined to circular reasoning.

A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks

poyus

Fear of a black President

As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s original sin, slavery. But as our first black president, he has avoided mention of race almost entirely. In having to be “twice as good” and “half as black,” Obama reveals the false promise and double standard of integration. By Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.

Bookshelf

Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Journal

Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).