BARACK OBAMA MAY WIN, BUT HE’S NO AFRICAN-AMERICAN …
The emergence of Barack Obama, the African-American presidential aspirant in the U.S., has overcome many doubts about the feasibility of a Black person actually ruling that once profoundly racist nation.
The young man isn’t just a formal candidate, but given the events of recent weeks he seems poised to mount a real challenge to the concept of dynastic political inheritance in the so-called “home of modern democracy.” The main challenge he poses is to Hillary Clinton, whose major asset – let no one doubt it – is the fact that she was Bill Clinton’s wife, serving in the unelected position of “First Lady,” before becoming a Senator.
This challenge is based largely on Barack’s belief that a fundamental change in the conduct of government is needed. His diagnosis is that Hilary represents the status quo, although as a woman she could also be regarded as a harbinger of change. As a consequence of Barack Obama’s articulation of these doubts, Hilary’s assumed push-over victory is now far from assured.
So instead, she’s now fighting for her political life. Meanwhile, her husband’s legacy is being reassessed even by his one-time supporters. In fact, Barack Obama has earned the respect and support of many of Clinton’s natural allies. This hasn’t only damaged Hillary’s campaign – it has redefined the parameters of the Obama candidacy beyond the confines of the exotic, which is how many observers always regarded the idea of a Black American running for the Presidency.
There are several fundamental issues that must be clarified to understand the importance of Obama’s candidacy. First of all, strictly speaking Barack Obama is not an African-American – but an African who is American. He’s not a descendant of the enslaved Africans who built America without reward or respect for their contributions. He is in fact a first generation American, while the real African-Americans are people whose lineage can be traced back fifteen generations and more.
Nevertheless, because of the inherited racist perception in America that considers even a single drop of African blood as being the dominant factor in establishing one’s ethnic identity, Barack, whose mother was a White lady, is seen as an African-American or “Black” person.
But there is a side to his character that well-illustrates the differences between himself and the average “Black American.” For instance, when speaking of his heritage he points proudly to his living relatives, such as his grandmother in Kenya, as an important element in his upbringing. He doesn’t have the burden or the challenge of discussing how his ancestors overcame prejudice within the very society that he’s striving to rule. He doesn’t have to refer to the disenfranchisement and dehumanization of his ancestors when he speaks of the legacy that he represents.