Barack Obama is not the first black president

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

 

 

 

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Being black in America

On that one characteristic alone, being black in America, I can’t relate. I’ll never be able to because I’m white in America. But! with what has been broadcast across the country lately between law enforcement and communities of black people I can finally say that I understand, even if it is only slightly. The specific aspect I’d like to address is that of a black person on any typical day feeling singled out, “profiled”, and/or targeted for no good reason. To explain how this happened, I need to include my Nissan Versa.

It’s a beaut, Clark. A beaut.

I’ve had this Versa for about 10 years and she’s a real beaut. However, she’s taken a licking or two over the years, and most recently got into a scurfuffle with a Chrysler. Here’s the damaging footage (impact is 29 seconds in):

What you can’t see in the footage is that the Chrysler basically dismembered the front left side of the Versa. My bumper is detached but barely hanging on, the cracked headlight now points a few feet in front of the bumper, etc. It’s the headlight that taught me today’s lesson.

img_20170111_210044313Because it’s cracked, moisture got in and the bulb went out. So in the evenings, I’ve been driving around with one headlight. Not a problem, right? That’s what I thought, too, but then bam! Hello, class c misdemeanor! I’ve been stopped by the police 3 times this week. F your i, I wouldn’t drive at night, except that some days it’s required for a job I have. So as the sun sets I’m driving around nervous, eyes darting here and there, heart beating faster, strategically positioning myself in traffic, always wondering where a police car is and how I can get past them without being a bother. Then I think to myself, “So this is how it feels to be Odell Beckham after he scores a touchdown, no wait, this is how it sometimes feels to be black.”

In my case, the police are doing their job and I thank them for it. But sometimes (at least the stories reported in the news), the police are singling folks out without cause, not what their job is.

The nerves, heartbeat quickening, doubt, feeling targeted, now I know a little of what that’s like and quite frankly, if it were about my skin color and not just driving with one headlight at night, I’d never want to leave home. It’s not fun, it’s not fair, and if it doesn’t change, that’ll be a gigantic mistake.

If you’re curious about how it feels, disconnect one of your headlights and drive around a few nights with a single beam. It’s a rush!

-Out of the Wilderness