I know this post is basically 9 years too late, but still, every time I hear it said that Barack Obama was the first black president of the United States, I perk up a little. I think it’s just a matter of language, really. Because he was our first African-American president, sure, since his dad was from Africa and his mom was from the U.S., but he is not black, in the literal sense of the term. So if someone is going to say he was our first black president, someone else could easily counter by saying he was our 44th white president.
I also thought he might be the first biracial president, but that may not even be true either. There are lists out there that show a handful of other presidents who are considered to have been “mixed race.” Just think about the early years of the United States… wouldn’t the chance of a white person and a Native American falling in love and making babies be pretty high?
I agree with the first part of what Morgan Freeman said here in 2012: “America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president, he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
Let me be clear here, my issue is not with Obama at all. He achieved one of the most sacred and honorable positions in the U.S., so kudos to him for that. But I am excited for the day we have our first actually black president (as long as he or she is elected because he or she seems to be the most fit person to lead the country, of course). That person can be Native American, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, doesn’t matter to me. My issue is with how we’re defining Mr. Obama’s race and/or legacy. Even if it’s just in a social way (meaning history books and documents will get it right, but conversationally we’ll always get it wrong), I think he’ll be remembered as being the first black president.
Do you often here Barack Obama referred to as the first black president? What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below!
-Out of the Wilderness