From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Tuesday April 25th 2017

Op-Ed: Obama…He’s Not Only One of Us

So much emphasis has been put on Barack Obama this presidential election, that if elected, he would be the first black president in the history of the good old United States of America.  Everywhere in churches, bars and bus stops, black people are already celebrating.  What the?!

Let us not overlook the big picture here, people: Obama is half black and white.  Let me repeat it again: Obama is half black and white.  Nonetheless, those in the black community have a view that if anyone has a drop of black in them, then that is enough to be regarded as “one of us.”  We will get to this view later.  Obama is the son of a Kenyan man, Barack Obama Sr., and a white American woman from Wichita, Kansas, Ann Dunham.  So how can we claim him as one of us when clearly his family portrait is a stark contrast to any of ours?  Aside from that, Obama grew up way more differently than we did.

Afraid that Obama wasn’t challenged enough because she couldn’t afford to send him to the best international schools, Obama’s mother would wake him up every day at 4 a.m. to give him English lessons, while living in Indonesia.  The only time I remember being woken at 4 a.m. as a child was when Ethiopian Christmas celebrations at church were over!

Obama’s mother shuffled between Indonesia and Hawaii after sending 10-year-old Obama to live in Hawaii with his maternal grandparents so that he can attend a prep school, a decision very hard for her to make.  A year later, his mother returned to Hawaii and after 3 years, she decided to go back to Indonesia but Obama decided to stay in Hawaii.  Gee, I wish I had that kind of freedom at age 14.  During that time, somewhere in New York, I couldn’t even play next door at my friend’s house without my mother there to supervise!  Ironically, Obama has given to his children what his mother didn’t give to him, stability.  In, a 7 page spread about Obama’s mother, Obama has been quoted as saying, “We’ve (him and his wife) created stability for our kids in a way that my mom didn’t do for us.  My choosing to put down roots in Chicago and marry a woman who is very rooted in one place probably indicates a desire for stability that maybe I was missing.”

Back to the point I was trying to make earlier, there is a rule in the United States, the one-drop rule, that holds that a person with any trace of African ancestry is considered black unless having an alternative non-white ancestry which he or she can claim, such as Asian, Arab, Native American, or Australian aboriginal.  In case you are wondering, this rule applies to no other group than blacks.  When we explore this rule and dig deeper, we find that it developed from years of institutionalized slavery.  So the next time you make such implications of Obama and others with similar backgrounds, think about this rule and its origin, I bet you’ll think again.

Ciao!

~Mimi

Questions? Contact Mimi at Mimi@tsehainy.com. 

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