This subject has been covered many times, but I still find the easy categorization of Barack Obama as “black” quite weird. Barack’s mum is as white as mine. By calling him “black” it seems that Americans (i) can’t get out of their racial filing cabinet, they have to label the guy somehow and, well he looks sort of black and has a black wife so let’s stick him under “b”; and/or (ii) they regard African-American genes as such a pollutant that anyone with a dash of them must be “black”.
This came up with Tiger Woods too, who protested against being filed under “b”, pointing out (to some African-Americans’ displeasure) that he was part Thai, Chinese, native American, and Dutch.
I reckon if Barack were a citizen of a European country he would be described as what he is, mixed race, most of the time. Take Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the latest tennis sensation, who reached the final of the Australian Open last month. Even before his parents arrived for the final, commentators were at pains to point out that the unseeded Tsongas was the son of an immigrant from Congo and a white French mother. So if tennis commentators can get it right, why not political pundits?
My guess is that, even in America, the sort of racial categorization that asserts Barack’s blackness is going to seem very old fashioned in a few short years. You just have to go to Europe these days and look around you; at least in the large cities, the number of mixed race kids is growing apace. Even in my quite traditional Scottish family, my cousin married an Indian guy and they have two kids. As Woody Guthrie said:
And all creeds and kinds and colors Of us are blending Till I suppose ten million years from now We'll all be just alike
Same color, same size, working together
And maybe we'll have all of the fascists
Out of the way by then
When you think of all the harm that racial categorization has done in human history I think we will be well shot of it. What does it matter after all?