Congratulations, America!


Just after 6am here in Joburg, and the predictions seem to be confident of an Obama win in the USA today.

Well Done, America.

Although I would have preferred to see Cynthia McKinney, since Abraxas pointed her out to me, in the race with anything like a chance.

When push comes to shove, in present-day politics we’re dealing in the Abusers’ game, so one strategy would be to try to minimise the harm they can do. In that light, I completely agree with voting Barack Obama.

Here’s an interesting take on race, which has been looming large in this election: from the South African perspective, Obama is not Black, he’s Coloured.

Here in the former home of Apartheid, we continue to be obsessive about race – and that means that we have a system of many ways to classify a person according to their ancestry.

Isn’t it odd how, to claim White status, you have to have a proven lineage of White ancestors for at least- oh, I dunno – three generations, maybe four, but just one non-White progenitor makes you automatically Black? Or Coloured, as we would have it here?

Obama has a very close relation who is White – his mother, in fact. But that doesn’t, apparently make him White. It makes him Black.

How strange we are – it’s as if one drop of Black blood makes you into the Other.

And does it take a South African to be unafraid to raise this peculiarity of ours?

Pic: More from the Beltane Fire Society

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6 responses to “Congratulations, America!

  1. Excellent point! I noticed the same thing, and it IS curious how 1/2 black = black, whereas 1/2 white = black too.racism, really … same old. I don’t see american imperialism slow down MUCH, but i do think priorities have changed, and more effort will be spent on appearances, the blackness of the whole thing being my clue.I’ve heard rumours that this will be very good for sa, as black americans geneally seem to hold us as the “motherland” … or something.You got dollar? yes please :)peace

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  2. I don’t think Obama’s colour is especially important. I suppose with an African father and an American mother he has a better claim than most of his fellow countrymen to the label “African-American”. But the label that concerns me more, which he shares with John McCain, is “right-wing authoritarian”.

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  3. Excellent point! Obama was also brought up in Hawaii which has a rather sad history of colonial powers and missionaries fighting over it. Hopefully, that will have taught him that no one has a divine right to invade another’s land or impose their beliefs on others.Paul

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  4. In the U.S., historically, it’s been called the “one drop rule”–an expression that developed in the era of legalized slavery–meaning that any individual with a trace of African ancestry counted as black, not white. That way if a white slave owner raped and impregnated his slaves, the resulting children would be black, hence slaves. While Americans talk about the one drop rule in an historical context, in many ways we still act as if we believe in it. The whole idea is racist, of course, depending as it does on bogus notions of racial purity: in order to be white, you have to be “pure white.” Of course, who counts as white is a historical and cultural, not a natural, fact.Given continuing, pervasive racism in the U.S. and a general myopia about politics and world events, it’s a bloody miracle that Obama got elected, and by such a large margin. He is an extraordinary individual, and he ran a flawless campaign. At the same time, his opponent ran a really bad campaign and had the burden of the Bush years weighing him down. It’s a profound confluence of events that has led to this outcome, and I think most Americans know it.I can’t begin to describe the sense of hope, renewal, and excitement that people are feeling here. Even if we don’t agree with him on everything politically (I myself am quite to the left of him), we can see his intelligence, his decency, and his competence. And we can see what he stands for. I think all but the most cynical among us still believe in those ideals that the U.S. espouses, even as the nation has fallen so hopelessly short of them. Finally, while Obama isn’t as “left” as progressive politicians in other parts of the world, in no sense is he a “right-wing authoritarian.” I don’t see how someone could think so based on anything he’s said or written.

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  5. Innana, thank you so much for that post. I think it was completely on point. I would also like to add that while the one-drop rule certainly continues to inform identity, these days the politics of authenticity make skin color a more relevant topic. Many biracial and multiracial people feel that the U.S. history towards people of color (not just black people by any stretch of the imagination) goes beyond anything as easily identifiable as skin color, and is just as much about cultural differences. And, while there are certainly people who don’t have these types of discussions and conversations regularly, I think there are more – particularly among my generation (I’m 25) – who do. I, for one, am relieved not only that we finally elected a president of color, but that the sorts of debates about the relevance of race and ethnicity challenged privileged people’s beliefs that we live in a post-racial world. Anyway, no, Aquila, it doesn’t take a South African. This is stuff I learned about in elementary school, secondary school, and college, and even now in grad school here in the U.S. It’s something I grew up talking about at the dinner table. It’s not that racism doesn’t persist in the U.S., it does, but I have found that very few people outside of the U.S. appreciate that part of the reason the world continues to get big headlines around race from the U.S. is because we’re all paying attention to it. It makes me crazy when I travel abroad and watch privileged light-skinned people talking smack about the U.S. and ignoring the ways that they continually, blithely, and intentionally oppress ethnic groups such as indigenous people in Latin America and middle-easterners in Europe. But enough bitching about my nationalistic pet peeve. And enough about race, for the moment, too. I think Barack Obama has the potential to be the best president the U.S. has ever seen. I am not an anarchist, but a solid liberal that likes to work within the system, so that probably has something to do with it, too. But my hope is bigger than Barack Obama. An entire generation here mobilized and now my hope is that we will STAY mobilized. Yes We Can.

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