whose senator?

I’m becoming a little obsessed with the way Barack Obama is described by the mainstream British media. He is ‘the black senator’. If he becomes president he will be forever described as ‘the first black president’. Strange, the juxtaposition with Hillary Clinton. Why is she not ‘the female senator’ or ‘the white female senator’? The chance of a female of any colour becoming president of the United States is as unlikely as that of a black male. But his colour is what matters most, it seems, to the mainstream media. It matters deeply. And now, they say, but his mother was milky white! Everyone wants a piece of the man. I’ve heard journalists who come from the same region as his father (Kenya, East Africa) calling him ‘Kenyan’ or ‘African’. America, say some, is going to have its ‘first African president’. No! Its first Kenyan president. No! Its first Luo president. What about its first mixed-race president? Its first president with an Indonesian step-father? Its first president who has admitted to snorting cocaine? Everyone wants a piece of Barack. Everyone wants his identity. His racial origins are being dissected and stripped apart under our noses, while plain old Hillary – a woman – is left lingering on the sidelines. She is white. She is of no interest. Only Barack is represented as other because of his colour. This is deeply shameful but oh so revealing in the path we tread so slowly towards equality. Our capacity to enjoy and appreciate in mutual respect is deeply limited. Owning someone’s racial identity appears to be so much more important than finding out about and sharing in their experiences of life, and their mind. How they see the world around them. How much they know. How much they enquire. How much they reflect. Colour colour colour. Black, brown, white. Really white, really black, really yellow. We need to know colour. We need to know colour. We need to know colour. Why?

Advertisements