Obama on Multiracial Identity

This is from page 99 of the paperback edition to Obama’s autobiography, Dreams from My Father.  Many people assume that he is similar to Tiger Woods because he constantly refers to his white mother “from Kansas” and black father “from Kenya.”  He has benefited from the efforts of the Multiracial movement to make racially mixed families and racially mixed ancestry respectable and overturn the “one drop” myth, but he is obviously not in favor of free choice – or at least no one has publicly dared to ask him if he still holds to the views expressed below:
I didn’t have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe.  Grow up in Compton and survival becomes a revolutionary act…I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubt.  I was more like the black students who had grown up in the suburbs…You could spot them right away by the way they talked, the people they sat with in the cafeteria.  When pressed, they would sputter and explain that they refused to be categorized.  They weren’t defined by the color of their skin, they would tell you.  They were individuals.
That’s how Joyce liked to talk.  She was a good-looking woman, Joyce was, with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips…all the brothers were after her.  One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ Association meeting.  She looked at me funny and then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.
“I’m not black,” Joyce said.  “I’m multiracial.” Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American and part something else.  “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me.  Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making me choose.  Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person.  No–it’s black people who always have to make everything racial.  They’re the ones making me choose.  They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am…”
They, they, they.  That’s the problem with people like Joyce.  They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people.  It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, they way integration always worked, a one-way street.

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