Friday, June 6, 2008

off topic - presidential politics and race

Totally off topic but... in the wake of all the headlines about Barack Obama being the first black person to get a major party presidential nomination I cannot help but think... Yeah, but he's also the umpteenth multi-racial person nominated by a major party, lets not be so black and white. Lets talk about his policies, his record, or at the very least his age... But then I started doing a little digging. From what I can tell, pretty much every American president has had a single-ethnic background. I was flabbergasted. I didn't check all of the presidents, but the vast majority, and especially a lot of the recent ones. I just assumed there would be some german-italian presidents, or scotish-french presidents, or something. But NOOOO. Its all both parents from the same ethnic background. So my question is this: Should we celebrate the fact that we've finally got someone with African-American heritage on a major party ticket or do we celebrate that we finally have someone with more than just a single ethnic background on a major party ticket? Or does any of this matter? I think either way, I'd still be disappointed that we're focusing on his ethnicity rather than his substance. And now for the literacy tie-in: this was my first non-school related blogging, so I used a "new literacy" to connect to a "community of learners" who can help "situate" my learning in a real-world context. . . ;)


Grace Butler said...

While we're at it, let's look at how Obama is perceived. His mother is white and his father is black, but Obama is unfailingly seen as the "black" candidate. In our country (unlike in other places), race is largely seen as a matter of skin color, and we're not willing to recognize the possibility of someone falling in between two groups. Why is that, and what does it say about our concept of culture?

ANNA said...

Yes, it is obvious that Obama does not look like anyone else who has ever run for president. Depending on what news channels you watch, articles you read, or radio you listen to-race may be enough for the media to jump all over his "ethnicity" as an "important" role of the political race. Throughout the entire presidential nomination, I've been interested in watching how the citizens of the U.S. respond to Obama and Hilary. Like you said, he's young and black. I never considered that skin color would be the ONLY reason people would or would not vote for him. I think for the most part the decision of voters would go beyond his skin color and be focused on his substance. Let the media explode over his ethnicity but don't let it scare or influence your vote due to skin color. Like you said, it should be the candidate’s substance that is valued!
In response to your actual question…I think Americans that are having a difficult time with Obama’s ethnicity influencing their decision of voting for a candidate that is something other than white is toying with the same questions you ask in your blog.
Just out of curiosity...would you have posted a comment blog had Hilary been selected to run for the democractic party?

Tamara Niquette said...

To be honest I never follow politics. But this year I became interested not in who would win the Democratic vote but i how people would react. When I asked my students who they would vote for if they could (McCain , Obama, or Clinton). There was an obvious split:

Black Boys: Obama
Black Girls: Split between Obama and Hilary (I mean who do they relate more to being black or being a women?)
White Boys: McCain
White Girls: Split between Hilary and McCain.

None of them cared who had what policies and I realize they are only kids and cant vote but they are ages 12-16 and will vote soon. These are the lines they followed which means there will definitely be votes that follow the same lines for adults in the US. We love labels and that's what we have in our race for presidency this year.