President Barack Obama is constantly in the news these days. He seems to take up a lot of space in the blogisphere and in the corporate media. Much of what's been said about him recently has concerned race as this past week the nation remembered the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
One thing that I've noticed that continues to bother me concerning race and the President is that he is almost universally referred to as African American by bloggers and corporate media. This makes me wonder if the term African American really means anything or is it just a simple descriptor meaning Black?
For me the term African American refers to Black people that belong to a particular ethnic heritage. I've always thought that African Americans are descendants of Black Americans who were both enslaved in this country and those who suffered under Jim Crow.
The President is a direct descendant of an African man from Kenya. None of the President's ancestors suffered enslavement in this country. Although it can be said that his father briefly lived under the thumb of Jim Crow laws when he was a student in the late 50's here in the U.S.
So I do not think of the President as being the first African American President. Being African American, in my opinion, is not about simply being Black. It's about a cultural heritage rooted in the atrocity that enslavement was in this country and then being forced to live as second class citizens after slavery was outlawed.
The President is indeed Black but his particular ethnic heritage is different from most Black Americans. He has no direct blood ties to enslavement except that his wife is African American.
Am I the only one who cringes when Barack Obama is referred to as being African American?
Hopefully at some point the distinction between being Black and being African American will be more clear to people in general. In the meantime I hope that at least the decedents of people who were enslaved in this country will make the distinction for themselves.
What do you think?
P.S. I'll post about my vacation soon. It was really nice. ;-)