Somebody asked me today, in the wake of all the fuss about the inauguration next week, what was so historic about this event? I am sure she was asking ironically, but it's obvious that what is historic is the race of the president-elect -- and this is an odd thing to highlight, considering that race is supposedly a ''social construct." I mean, aren't we all, according to the official dogma, the same apart from skin color?
Judging by the discussion at certain Internet forums, even many so-called 'race realists' are regarding race as a ''social construct''. Why do I say that? Have any of you noticed how often such people will say ''but he's not black; why are they saying he's black when he's just as White as he is black? He is half-White, not black." Or this one: ''he's a mulatto, he's not black!''
This kind of thing is a radical change from the traditional definitions of racial categories. People, even the self-described 'race realists', often seem to decry the ''one-drop rule'', claiming it is now employed only by 'the Democrats', when this Wikipedia entry describes it as being
'...a tactic in the U.S. South that codified and strengthened segregation and the disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites from 1890-1910. After Supreme Court decisions in Plessy v. Ferguson and related matters, White-dominated legislatures felt free to enact Jim Crow laws segregating Blacks in public places and accommodations, and passed other restrictive legislation. Legislatures sought to prevent interracial relationships to keep the white race "pure", long after slaveholders and overseers took advantage of enslaved women and produced the many mixed-race children.''
Of course Wikipedia is usually politically correct in the nth degree, so we can allow for that, but still it's a fact that up until rather recent decades, anybody with visible black ancestry was by default black, and they usually identified themselves as such. Even some who appeared to have very minimal black ancestry identified as black in the pre-Civil Rights Revolution era.
For example: one of the first black governors of a state (though not an elected governor) was P.B.S. Pinchback, of Louisiana, during the Reconstruction era. His appearance, as you can see, was not obviously black.
However, our president-to-be is much more self-evidently black in appearance than Pinchback. A generation or more ago, to suggest that he was not black but 'half-White' would be considered absurd.
So what has changed, causing so many White people to grumble about Obama being classified as black?
Can it be that many Whites, even among the 'race realists' are starting to fall for the 'race is a social construct' line?
How else can we account for this change in understanding of racial labels?
Is race that fluid a thing, that we can argue about whether someone resembling our president-elect is actually black? Or are some of us unwilling to acknowledge that we will soon have a black president, preferring to create a new racial category for people like him?
I wonder if, with our present trends towards a multiracial, multiethnic ''America'', we will soon have a plethora of racial categories, such as they have in Mexico, with their litany of racial groupings like mestizo, castizo, chamiso, mulato, coyote, and so on.
But if we are going to be willing to describe someone who is 50 percent black as 'half-White', or as 'not black', then the definitions will have been transformed radically.
The media have been working hard lately to try to destroy all our old conceptions about race, and to confuse the issue as much as possible. For example, there was this story which made much of the twins born to a biracial couple, one twin supposedly 'white' and one black.
Or there was this more recent story.
I suppose births like this have happened ever since people of different races have reproduced together, and black/White pairings have not been all that uncommon in certain areas of America particularly for decades now. So why this sudden emphasis on these incidents? It seems to be that the media is trying to blur the distinctions in the average person's mind, and it's working particularly well among the younger generations who have been fully indoctrinated into the multicult already.
But the fact remains, it just is not possible for a couple of mixed or disparate racial heritage to have a 'White' child, despite these silly media propaganda pieces. If the children have mixed parentage, one parent of European descent and one of African descent (or other nonwhite descent) the children will all be mixed, no matter if some of them have lighter skin or straighter hair, or even light-colored eyes. They cannot be sort of White or half-White; they are mixed, and in most cases they will grow up to have identifiably nonwhite features, and will identify and be identified as such.
I just cannot understand what the 'race-realist' Whites think they are proving by insisting that Obama is 'not black'. What they are doing, it seems to me, is giving the 'race is a social construct' idea a boost, giving a victory to the liberal anti-racist types, and further confusing our thinking about race and racial identity.
Many of the people who express these confused ideas about race seem to be media-susceptible people, given that they often like to refer to celebrities. For example, they often cite Tiger Woods as an example of a person who identifies as 'mixed-race' and not black. Or they mention Derek Jeter, who is apparently of partly-black ancestry, but with less obviously black features and coloring.
Tiger Woods may acknowledge his apparently very mixed ancestry, with his mother being a blend of Asian and remote Dutch ancestry while his father claims some 'Native American' ancestry. But that does not change the fact that, if he were an unknown person passing by on the street, we would likely all recognize his black ancestry as being quite obvious, while his Asian ancestry and obviously his remote Dutch ancestry would not be recognizable, being not as dominant as his black heritage.
As for his 'Native American' ancestry, just a word of caution: just as many White Americans claim to have ''Cherokee'' ancestry which proves elusive, so do many American blacks. I've met many, many American blacks who assert that they had a remote ''Cherokee' great-great-grandmother in their family tree. Those Cherokees were apparently very popular and very well-traveled people, leaving so many progeny everywhere.
But neither Tiger Woods nor our president elect prove anything about the meaninglessness of racial categories. The fact that so many Whites seem ready to adopt very ambiguous racial labels, and to apply them very subjectively, does seem to mean that we are falling for the politically correct flim-flam on race.