O-nauguration in the Racial Nation (Pt1): The First Biracial President

obamasmother_2These are the people who raised our current president… Madelyn, Ann and Stan Dunham. Imagine if an Angel of the Lord came down then and told them… “Behold I give you great tidings of comfort and joy. You will bring forth the first Black president of the United States of America”… Crazy right!

The day after the inauguration I went to visit my good friend Michelle and her 15 month old daughter, Gabryel, who is also my goddaughter. Gabryel is the child of a white man of Eastern European heritage and Michelle, a Canadian born, black woman of Trinidadian heritage. As I sat on the floor with Gabryel, she began singing something. I discovered, at the third or forth round that she was chanting, “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” And later I asked her, “Are you going to be the next bi-racial president of the United States?” “Yeah…” she replied in a very nonchalant way.

I sit here now, watching two very light-skinned black women talk about our new president. They are opposed to the notion that Barack Obama would be considered the first bi-racial president. They said that this valued a certain type of “pigmentocray” (valuing lighter skinned African Americans over daker skinned ones). They made the point that most African Americans were of mixed heritage and the historical boundaries of race in the US would have legally pushed Obama into a “black” identity.

While historically this is very true, racial politics have shifted greatly since the days of legal definitions of race. This is by no means an attempt to ignore the legacy of things like the one drop rule, the 3/5 clause, Jim Crow laws and many other laws of the sort. It is more to say that we live in a racial climate where children of parents from two or more racial backgrounds can more openly identify with all of who they are. We live in an era when I, child of 2 black parents and Gabryel, a child of mixed heritage can celebrate all of who we are and Obama together. If a person is raised by one black and one white parent they can have love and respect for both. We no longer live in the era of Imitation of Life. Bi-racial people no longer have to chose between their black or white parent, between oppression and passing.

Again that doesn’t exempt bi-racial people from the oppressive and often (emotionally and physically) violent legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. But this legacy shouldn’t make people born of two black parents stingy. We should share in the joy of this new president. We should share this victory with the bi-racial, the people born to immigrant parents, the kids of color raised by white parents and so on… it’s not just our victory black folk!

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This is some scary mess!

I happened upon this clip and I find it very disturbing. Though I do sometimes fear that I will one day get so tired of being single that I loose my mind and decide to marry Jesus, that’s not what disturbs me…

In addition to my wacky fears, I am also distressed over this because of the number the Apostle Paul (or the Pauline Scriptures) has done on the Black Church. We are so negative sometimes as a church that we’d rather focus on Paul’s hysteria-based theology than Jesus. Paul wrote in a time when he was just sure Jesus would be back in a few minutes. So at that point his extreme measures made sense. Don’t get married. And only get married if can’t control your sexual desires. It makes sense in his context. He’s saying let’s not screw it up before Jesus gets here. But my question is 2000 years later what the hell does any of this have to do with the body of a young girl? And what does it have to do with how we have come to understand marriage. Paul is saying don’t get married at all. And he’s saying to MEN only get married if you feel like your horniness will get in the way of your holiness. Therefore if people were following what Paul said, they wouldn’t have been looking for their soulmates. The men would basically be using women’s bodies to release the unholy. Sound crazy? That’s because it is…. in my humble opinion 😉 So why would you use this scripture in support of this girl choosing abstinence? This is the scary mess that makes me want to leave the church. I’m not anti-abstinence. But I do wonder why the church is so intent on being the regulators of women’s bodies. And I wonder why we insist upon using the sections of the bible that devalue the women’s body the most as support for the regulation and “holiness” of women’s bodies?