Wednesday, January 21, 2009

descendant of an African immigrant? Wake Up - He's Black!

Okay. Was I the only one to catch the slight Rick Warren said in his prayer at the inauguration on yesterday? Specifically referring to President Obama as, "...a descendant of an African immigrant."

Technically speaking, we're [African-Americans] are all descendants of African immigrants, even if some of our forefathers were brought here by force.

Come on! Give the man and our people some respect. He's an African-American and he's a pragmatist!


Anonymous said...

I would say that there are some (both who supported and didn't support Obama). Who believe that African-American isn't the correct characterization.

I have other friends who ave similar backgrounds to Obama and they would not call themselves African-American. They don't have that history. I think the African-American,Black debate is complicated.

I don't think Warren was attempting to be offensive of trying to withhold respect and think that his ethnic characterization of Obama has some credence.

Iam Robert said...

Hi blackwasp19,

Glad to see you're back! The debate over black and African-American is complicated. I to know folks of mixed origins that don't refer to themselves as African-American or black. Tiger Woods is a famous example of this: he uses term bi-racial to describe his ethnicity.

However, I believe, and let me know if I'm wrong, that President Obama characterizes his ethnicity as black.

I also agree with you that Mr. Warren's characterization has some merit, but I'm not sure of his motives for using such a characterization at this point in history. One thought that came to my mind was if he was trying to say that somehow Obama was better that the “average” black or African-American (who much of America is still prejudiced against) because his father came to the US by choice rather than as a slave.

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the motivation for Obama characterizing himself as African-American is? I obviously don't know the man, but wonder if it is more political than personal. His deep familial relationships are with the white part of his family. I am not mad at him or blame him he he choices to classify himself for political means - it was/is more potent saying the first African-American rather than the first bi-racial (though I think his bi-racial background symbolizes a sense of racial unity).

What complicates it for me is that is bio father is African, not African-American. The history is not of American Jim Crow and Slavery, but European colonialism. I don't think that that means any less or more than an African-American ancestry, it is just different.

I don't think Warren was trying to set Obama on a different level I think he was just trying to accentuate the depth of Obama's diversity. Were you reading about the Magic Negro video a couple of weeks ago? I think that brings up some interesting issues of seeing Obama as better than the average black.

Iam Robert said...


You hit on some VERY good points. I must admit, I never thought of it this way. His father does not have the same experiences to draw from. Before your insights, I would have said that Obama was the one who could identify with the "black" experience. But then again, his was hardly the typical of many of our experiences. Perhaps his characterization of himself is politically motivated and like you, I'm not mad at him.

And oh yes, I did read about this and I do think it points to what's in the minds of some...that somehow Obama's racial background sets him apart from the "average" black in America. In fact, many African-Americans were raising the same issue. But at the end of the day, I think what really makes anyone, including Obama, black is that somewhere in American, he would be judged negatively simply because of the color of his skin.

No American will be truly free until this is not the case.

You’re deep. Keep it coming!