22 September 2009

A President With A Sense of Humour...

There has been much made of whether race is a factor in politics no matter where you live in the world. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States of America was historic, perhaps for many reasons, but none more so than the fact he is a black man. The USA's first African-American president.

The current health care debate has had some commentators foaming at the mouth about whether or not the race card is being played in the sense that some people are anti-health bill for no other reason than the president is black. Obama has addressed these concerns in two ways, one a little more serious than the other.

The more serious version has Obama talking about the fact that the election showed that lots of folks voted for him irrespective of the colour of his skin, these folks were not only African-Americans, but Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians, and a whole lot of others as well. He acknowledges that maybe some people voted for him because he is black and some others voted for the other fella, John McCain, because Obama is black.

The less serious version popped up on the David Letterman Late Show where Obama said, "First of all, I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election."

However, it is worth noting that Obama himself has rejected the racism claims as they relate to health care reform and the passage of a health care bill. It is interesting that race is now re-appearing and raising its ugly head after so much talk and discussion of the USA entering into a post-racial phase. Post-racial being used to indicate a period where issues no longer had to be defined on race as there was a common or shared challenge in facing the future. To many this was the hope that the "Yes, we can!" campaign envisaged.

Health care reform is not about race, but rather it is about selling public policy and selling reforms. Simply, it is not going to ultimately matter what the colour of your skin is if you do not have health insurance.

In any event, the irreverent humor displayed by a sitting president appearing on a late night comedy show says much about the man.


Anonymous said...

He's not even "full" black, he's only half-black. His mom is white, right? He's actually the symbol of multiculturalism in the US.

I don't understand why America, the big melting pot - make a such a big deal about that. I mean I could understand the controversy MUCH better if for example Indonesia had a Chinese descent president.

Rob Baiton said...


Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing but thought I might save it up for another post (later).

I don't know that you have to establish the degree of blackness to be successful.

I am guessing though it is a case of President Obama will never be black enough for some and never white enough for others.

Hence, all this talk about a post-racial society.

I find it interesting because when I was at school, I went to a school with a significant indigenous Australian population (AKA aboriginal) and there were two types of grants provided to students in need one was called Austudy, for non-aboriginals, and the other was Abstudy, as the name suggests this was exclusively for my indigenous brothers and sisters who identified as being aboriginal.

The point is that some of my friends were whiter than I was but had aboriginal heritage and were able to claim. So, I guess sometimes the colour of one's skin is not always a good indicator of race :D

Now wouldn't that be a day in history if Indonesia was able to elect an Indonesian president who claimed and identified their Chinese roots.

muebles camobel said...

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