Black and White Instead of Black or White?

I’m a Californian and that comes with a certain source of pride in multi-ethnicity. According to the NY Times, California has the highest population of bi-racial people in America and that atmosphere creates a pretty culturally aware group of people. Now, while I’m not bi-racial, (A white great grandfather and Indian great grandmother doesn’t count, right?) one of my best friends is, and consistently dealt with race and its politics during our college years. Often, somebody’s ignorant, “What are you?” (Translation: what is your ethnic make-up so I can know how to address you and therefore feel more comfortable?) would piss her off. Then I’d have to hear her frustrated vent, although I was just an innocent by-stander. And let’s not even talk about me telling people that I wasn’t bi-racial and being told that I was lying. (My response: “I’ll make sure I ask you what I look like next time I look in the mirror too.”)

That’s why America’s perception of Barack Obama’s ethnic make-up is so interesting. On one hand, if he makes it into the White House, he’ll be the first black president. On the other, his presence could give bi-racial Americans a leg to stand on regarding their ethnic make-up as a definitive definition in itself (ie, I’m black and white or Japanese and Mexican) instead of having to choose who they align with socially. Just something to think about.


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