8) Seeking Racial “Purity”
Individuals or groups who seek racial “purity” are properly condemned as bigots — if they are white. Non-whites are routinely given a pass, and in some cases encouraged to “preserve their culture” through sexual segregation.
Morgan Freeman laments President Obama’s “white mama” and cites her as evidence that Obama is not truly black. This raises a few questions, the first of which is: what is “black”?
At the very least, by Freeman’s standard, having a white mother disqualifies one from being black. (That counts me out, too.) But not all blacks are equally so. Freeman himself is relatively light-skinned, certainly on a global spectrum. Many native Africans are far darker than Freeman, closer to ebony than brown. Indeed, the American black is invariably of mixed race, distinct from African cousins by breeding with whites over hundreds of years. Of course, the same can be said of any race over a long enough period of time. American whites are commonly a melting pot of Norwegian, Swede, German, Irish, Latin, Russian, and any of a dozen others.
That speaks to a critical truth. Race is a social construct of little objective value beyond efficiently communicating an amalgam of physical descriptors. President Obama is black, not because both parents were so, but because his physical characteristics are categorized as such in our thought and language. Beyond that, race means nothing. The notion of racial “purity” is inherently irrational, because race itself is subjective.
Why then should we distinguish Obama as the first black president, or argue over whether he is black enough to qualify as such? What rational value does such a distinction have? What is Freeman getting at?
Given the political context, it seems likely that Freeman desires a president whose blackness more dramatically informs public policy. Of course, a president so oriented would necessarily disenfranchise everyone else. And that’s the idea.