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A perplexing new chapter is unfolding in Barack Obama’s racial saga: Many people insist that “the first black president” is actually not black.
Debate over whether to call this son of a white Kansan and a black Kenyan biracial, African-American, mixed-race, half-and-half, multiracial _ or, in Obama’s own words, a “mutt” _ has reached a crescendo since Obama’s election shattered assumptions about race.
Obama has said, “I identify as African-American _ that’s how I’m treated and that’s how I’m viewed. I’m proud of it.”
In other words, the world gave Obama no choice but to be black, and he was happy to oblige.
But the world has changed since the young Obama found his place in it.
Intermarriage and the decline of racism are dissolving ancient definitions. The candidate Obama, in achieving what many thought impossible, was treated differently from previous black generations. And many white and mixed-race people now view President-elect Obama as something other than black.
So what now for racial categories born of a time when those from far-off lands were property rather than people, or enemy instead of family?
Like Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and Virginia did Tuesday night, John McCain’s sole holdout on “The View” has flipped sides. Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s now for Barack Obama.
The conservative co-host, who supported McCain through many a heated coffee-table debate during the 2008 election, revealed today that she fully backs the president-elect.
“View” creator Barbara Walters turned to Hasselbeck in the first few minutes of the show and said, “All eyes are gonna be on you. How do you feel?”
The 31-year-old mother of two launched into a story about how her daughter Grace had asked her who lost the election after watching Obama’s victory speech:
“I said, ‘You know what Grace, no one lost today.’ … Today is a victory for this country, the first black president, the first black first lady — family, to have the amount of voters. … Fourteen million more voters in this election than the last, present themselves and vote for their country. Today is victory. I haven’t felt this good through the entire election process.”
Joy Behar, Hasselbeck’s frequent foil, then took the opportunity to gloat — “are you saying I was right all along?” — before offering the blonde a handshake. Hasselbeck responded with a fist bump.
“The power that he has,” she said. “I will get in a long line of supporters because I wasn’t the first, but I will jump in that line and support our president because as an American, that is what I believe we should do.”