Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Mama

My first husband was black. That's what his birth certificate said. His older brother was, again according to his birth certificate , black. His older sister was white. His younger brother white as well. His parents were of notable Free People of Color families from Natchitoches (Nack-a-tish was how they said it), LA. They came to New Orleans in their 20s. To look at any of them you would probably think Hispanic before you'd think black. Thick wavy black hair was a primary and beautiful family trait. But line their family up with other branches of the family tree and their history was easily deducible.

Obama's Mama was white. His father was a black African. So I wondered what does his birth certificate actually say? In Louisiana it would have said White or Black. In Hawaii it appears that it doesn't say either. It says his Mother was Caucasian and his Father was African.

If you ran into Obama, before he became famous, you'd probably say he was black. His family looks black. Michelle Robinson Obama's family looks black. I do not doubt, that despite his unusual upbringing by his interesting mother and amazing grandparents, he has had a African American experience in America. There is little anyone who appears black can do to avoid this not usually all good experience.

I am pleased and proud that Black Americans have Obama to look up to and inspire them. But I am also pleased and proud, as a white woman, that Obama's mama did the job she did raising him. It is my fervent hope that this unique cross cultural man and his family can bridge gaps and heal some of the wounds of history.

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