The Obama Census Form: Methinks He Should Please Himself…

Elizabeth Chang, of the Post Sunday magazine, was disappointed with Obama’s racial self-designation as black on his 2010 Census Form.  Chang, the mother of Asian and Caucasian children, thinks that Obama’s “accurate” portrayal of himself as biracial would serve a useful purpose of helping rid our society of the needless construct of race. She makes some compelling arguements.

Chang points out that Obama was rasied by a white mother and grandparents.  She fails to point out that his current extended family include a wife and daughters widely seen as black.  Obama says he self identifies as being black and that he is proud of that racial designation.

I ask, why can’t we let him decide on these types of personal questions?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “The Obama Census Form: Methinks He Should Please Himself…

  1. It is an interestingly pradoxical statement, but likely true, that we need to accurately describe race in order to see how useless an idea it really is. Gotta give ol’ Chang that.

  2. Zippy

    If wants to call himself “black” I’m okay with that. I’d better better with “mutt,” but Fox News would be all over that.

    As I noted before, since we’re dealing with dealing primary with hypenated-American lingo, I went with “African-” (we’re all out of Africa) “European-” (Ireland, Holland, France) “American” (French Canadian, and born/raised in the USA).

    As a fellow mutt, I don’t think “white” really says much, since it can mean everything from new Czech immigrant to George Bush.

    “Black” is more complicated, too, but at least there’s a compelling national narrative with it–ironically, because too many people gave their skin color significance.

    America is more and more becoming a nation of “mutts,” but we’s always been the “melting pot.” There just used to be a few more lighter-skinned mutts.

    I hope I did my part in documenting this.

  3. indypendent

    I really don’t care how Obama answers that question for himself. That is his business.

    But doesn’t it seem odd that so many people want Obama to fit a certain mold?

    I remember the time when Glenn Beck was on Fox News show and said that Obama has a problem with whites. I suspect the only reason this was said was to antagonize and rile up their base of Beckbots, Rushbots, Palinettes and Foxbots to think the president hates white people and to be afraid – very afraid.

    How many times have we seen Republicans use the weapon of race against Obama?

  4. Has anyone else been interested in these genetic firms that report they can go back a long way and describe where you come from? Mother and Father linages are available. My mother was adopted and there is much from her side we don’t know.

    On my father’s side there are relatives in Oakland who have traced his side back to the revolutionary war. I have tried to talk my daughter into joining the DAR since she will be applying to colleges soon.

  5. tosmarttobegop

    It is all about appearance, walking down the street what would anyone seeing you think your heritage is?
    In the case of the President no one that is not familiar with the fine details of what features come from what race would be guessing a blend of white and black.

    One of the saddest statements I have ever heard from someone of that mixed races is that they naturally go with Black. They find they are more accepted among that race then with White.
    Though they still find some within the Black race that do not accept them as being Black.

    I think that the women have a easier time with being accepted, sexist as it might be they get by better with their looks then depending on the race classification.
    One of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen was a mixture of white, black, native American and Asian.

    Her skin color was lovely and each race commented her face in a bend of the best of all races.

    • indypendent

      I wonder if our country will ever get past the color of our skin and put the emphasis on where the true color of a person resides – in their heart and soul.

      I’ve seen alot of beautiful beauty pageant queens with hearts and souls as black as coal. Somehow, the exterior beauty fades rapidly when the black heart and soul raise their ugly head.

    • WSClark

      Halle Berry.

  6. It is ridiculous to ever make any person pick ONE race. I would imagine the majority of us are mixed to some degree or another.

    Obama is white and black. Why should he have to pick one or the other? Whichever he picks would somehow have to feel like a betrayal of the other. That’s why I think many mixed race people choose black. Because if they are going to betray one side, it’s harder to betray the minority side.

    Course I could be WAY off on that since I am the purest white person in the entire world (and therefore obviously superior). /JOKE/

  7. indypendent

    Was there a box for mixed race on the census form? I honestly do not remember. See, that’s how much I look.

    But let’s look at this from another viewpoint. The census forms are used to help decide where our tax money is spent and different populations to be represented – correct?

    So, in Obama’s mind he is married to a black woman and they have two black children and he is black – so wouldn’t his best bet to help the black community get their fair share of representation would be to listed as black?

    • indypendent

      Or maybe Obama just likes to mess with Glenn Beck and other Fox Talking Heads when they insist Obama hates whites?

    • Zippy

      It offers a range of demographic category, but has an “other” fill-in-the-blank.

      The irony about race is that, like class, while it’s not physically significant, like any persistent environmental factor it can have lasting effects that get passed on.

      That may sound dangerously like Jefferson’s “degraded condition” argument, which I’m not at all endorsing, but things like higher rates of hypertension are no joke. Cultural differences become tied to circumstances.

      Hence, race still exists–but, as a distinct category, it shouldn’t. I’m not a big Eninem fan, but I loved the fact that a white guy from Detroit became a huge hip-hop star. It was the essential point–he lived in the same shit conditions, and grokked the same culture.