On race: The multiple choice
Most biracial individuals always dread those forms that ask you to check one box only. Are you black? Are you white? Are you Asian? Are you Hispanic? And for the likes of Barrack Obama and other mixed race individuals, the choice hasn’t always been so clear. Some have been forced to check the minority box coz that is how the world sees you. And choosing “other᾿ means your race is totally non existent.
In the US presidential election, Obama’s diverse family has come up more than enough times but in the end, we have chosen to define him in one way … Black. Yes, Obama is black. But he is also white.
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For most people, it was hard growing up biracial, even with acceptance from family. Questions like “Where are you from … Really?᾿ have been raised especially when being brought up in an area where one race is more dominant. I remember some people thought I was Middle Eastern. And as always, the guessers never got it right. And for those who are half white realized that being part-white was to be not-white at all.
In the 90s, things got better and with biracial celebrities taking the stage on TV, we started seeing some forms with biracial-multiracial boxes and mark them with joy I did. Things got better 2000, when for the first time, the U.S. census allowed Americans to identify themselves by more than one racial category. About 7 million did.
When people file Obama under black and only black, I feel like I am facing those old forms, that gulf between the races - check only one box – forget about one parent, half your family, one part of who you are.
I have chosen to see this historic election as being black versus white; it’s more than that. It is also about families that fill the in-betweens. John McCain adopted their daughter Bridget from an orphanage in Bangladesh. So regardless of who wins, McCain or Obama, a racial milestone will be met. Americans will have the first interracial first family in the White House.
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