If you are 63/64 Caucasian (white) and 1/64 African (black), you are black according to the Southern (U.S.) establishment of a bygone age, which would seem to show how much more powerful is blackness over whiteness. All the trouble the white establishment put on themselves to distinguish degrees of blackness had as its objective the purity of the white race and, to make sure that the objective was achieved, they made laws to erect a barrier between whiteness and perceived blackness. I say “perceived,” because there are white-skinned people with more African strains in them than dark-skinned people with Caucasian. However, since privilege went along with whiteness, people strived to be white-skinned. And, since certain features like a sharp nose, thin lips and straight hair were supposedly associated with whiteness, people tried to acquire these features.
One of the ways of preserving racial purity devised by the advocates were the segregation laws.
So dedicated to this ideal were the segregationists that George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, who was running for U.S. president, declared in a speech to his supporters, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” What a vain hope. This was an era when black people in America were terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan if they dared to think they had civil rights.
Let me shift gears. At one time, there was a strong belief amongst politically minded people in Belize, that the electorate would not vote for a party with a black leader. Our history seemed to have validated this belief, because our first Prime Minister, Mr. Price, was not black. Neither was Mr. Esquivel who succeeded him, nor Mr. Musa, who was our third Prime Minister. Our present Prime Minister, Mr. Barrow, is not white, but neither is he black. Mr. Goldson, who was the Leader of the Opposition for many years and, who, in the opinion of many, is responsible for keeping democracy alive in the years when the People’s United Party was winning consecutive elections by overwhelming numbers, was black. But, when the Opposition party finally broke through and won the general elections in 1984, he was not the leader.
Now, Mr. Barrow is Prime Minister, and people are saying that he is our first black Prime Minister, and I say he is not. Knowing his ancestry, I would say that he is more black than white because, I refuse to allow America to decide this question for me. Because America is the world leader does not give it the right to decide an issue like this for the rest of the world, especially when people should not be defined by their complexion but by their nationality.
All this stupidity about whiteness and blackness, associating superiority with white and inferiority with black, arose out of that abominable institution called slavery. Also, because the slaves who came from Africa were black with features considered ugly by white standards, not appreciating the reality that Africans are all complexions with all different facial features. There are Africans with as aquiline features and as straight hair as Caucasians.
The notion that racial purity can be preserved is a myth. It is really absurd because there is no way to know if someone is pure white or pure black based on their complexion. The races will mix. It is inevitable. If God did not want us to mix, he would have given us different genitalia. Besides, just look at the product of the mixture of a black man or white man, and the opposite of the opposite sex. The product is superior in appearance to their parents and, how do we know that he or she is not superior in intellect.
There is a race of a different kind going on in America. Two very impressive candidates are competing for the nomination as the representative of the Democratic Party in the election for the presidency of the United States of America. One is the wife of the former President, William Jefferson Clinton. The other is the Senator for Illinois, the son of a white American mother and a Kenyan (African) father. In complexion, a discerning viewer would say he is nearer white than black. But, for America and the rest of the world, which regard America as the supreme arbiter in these matters, he is black. But, this son of these two people is a most extraordinary man – supremely gifted, very well educated and adjusted, and acknowledged by many of America’s finest as worthy and competent to hold the highest office in the land.
Judging by what I hear and read, it seems that the rest of the world would welcome Barack Obama as the next American president for a variety of reasons but, especially, because of his avowed commitment to meet face to face with the Heads of Independent States, including those with objectives and policies which may be inimical to those of the United States.
Judging also, by the support Mr. Obama is getting from a wide cross section of the American electorate, it seems that there is a better attitude towards superficial differences based on ethnicity than heretofore.
Barack Obama is an American with a foreign sounding name. His middle name is Hussein, which is the title of the former ruler of Iraq. It is also the name of one of the two famous grandsons (Hassan and Hussein) of Islam’s great Prophet Muhammad. His opponents will make much of this, no doubt, but it will help him when pursuing diplomatic objectives with the Islamic world, if he is elected president.
It has been the belief amongst African Americans that the white majority would not support the candidacy of one of theirs for the presidency but, this is not the case of the Obama candidacy. They have a right to claim him as their candidate because he is half black but, there is nothing to stop the rest of the populace from claiming also, because he is half white.