On the 4th November 2008, Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States. However born of a white mother of Kansas and a Kenyan father, only his black side is proposed, whereas he is scientifically biracial, or “mixed-race”. Why is he considered black? The media have continually said that Obama became the first black president of the United Statesbut it would be quite accurate to say that he is the 44th president of the United States. Yet the only way consider and define Obama as a black is to accept a cultural definition rather than a scientific. In France, one would tend to want to declare Obama like a “mixed race“, but it never will be written that he is the first “mixed-race“ president. Thus, Barack Obama is black, because he defineshimself as black and the American society does the same. This American specificity has to be highlighted.
Barack Obama, 42 years old, was born in Hawaii in the United States. His mother, Stanley Ann, white and from Kansas, was an 18-year-old college student, whom parents had left Kansas to Hawaii. There his mother met his father, Barack Hussein Obama, whose Obama is named after. His father wasa Kenyan, who gained a scholarship to study in Hawaii. Mister Obama already had a wife and family in Kenya when he married Stanley Ann, Obama’s mother. When Obama was still a baby, his father got a chance, that is to say a scholarship, to study at Harvard, but the family had no money to go with him, so he moved to Harvard alone. Then, he returned to Kenya alone to work at the government as aneconomist, and the couple divorced. Obama saw his father just once, when his father came to visit him. He was 10. His mother married later an Indonesian man, when the little Barack was 6, and all the family moved to Jakarta. Ann got a daughter Maya with her second husband. Obama lived in Jakarta for 4 years and then returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attend to school.
Obama was agraduate college student at the University of Colombia and at Harvard Law School. After being a social worker, he worked as a community organizer, then as a civil rights attorney both in Chicago. He also taught constitutional law at the University Chicago Law School for 12 years.
Quite obviously, Barack Obama is not a standard Afro-American: he spent his youth in Hawaii and Jakarta, and graduatedat Harvard. It’s not a typical school career for a black. Besides, a majority of the Afro-Americans do not see him as black, but rather as an African and American, who do not know anything about immigration or slavery. Obama himself recognizes in his autobiography that he is not acquainted with the racism of the Southern States or the ghettos of the Northern States.
So we can say that Obama wasnot raised by black parents and did not grow up in a black world and had no particular connection to the black experience in America. So why does he define himself as black? Obama seems to have realized early that his situation would give him complicated choices. Although he asserts his maternal heritage, he never defines himself as biracial. In his memoir, DREAM FROM MY FATHER, he explains why hedid not talk much about his mother’s whiteness, he was actually afraid that “by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites”. Thus he would belong to the black world, because he thought it was the good choice to do and because he loved and missed his father too. On the other hand, Barack Obama explains that no one would buy that he is white with such a name: “A black with a strange name, I was notgiven much chance” he wrote in his book to the candidature to the Senate. White population is still not ready for that.
Yet other explanations have to be considered. Being black is not only a personal choice; the American society plays an important role too when it categorizes its citizens as black, white, Chinese and so on and so forth.
Barack Obama is black because of the American...