"One Drop Rule" Won’t Go Easily

I am careful not to talk too much about Senator Obama, not because he is not worthy of discussion but because it would be too easy to talk about him almost every day. I have said previously that his candidacy excites me mostly because our country will have no choice but to deal with the issue of “racial” classifications due to his being the first Mixed person to reach such a high level. But I have also realized just how difficult it will be for people to drop the awful habit of classifying any person that is half black as simply black, despite the other 50% of their ethnic make-up. It is a historical blight that seems to be completely woven into the American fabric, even amongst people who should know better.

I say this because in the last week or so I have seen at least three articles on Obama that almost in the same sentence that they refer to his African father and white mother from Kansas, they go on to describe him as possibly the first black President. While since he is indeed half black, it could be argued that is accurate to describe him as black if only in reference to his being partly so, but then it would also have to be accurate to describe him as white, if only in reference to his being partly that also.

Believe me that I was not naively thinking this vestge of old-school racism would go away quietly or easily. I suppose I am simply surprised a bit to realize just how much people desire to simplify everything that we all are into one neat category, no matter how wrong the category is. Many people cannot, it seems, accept that things are not so black and white (no pun intended). And yet, they would indeed rather say that things/people are either black or white (or some other ethnic choice between two differing parents) rather than accept that they are neither or they are both, not just one or the other.

That concept it seems, is just too much for many to wrap their heads and prejuduces around.


2 thoughts on “"One Drop Rule" Won’t Go Easily

  1. Will says:

    Your reflections on the “one drop rule” recall the horror of the so-called Third Reich when people in Germany went to great lengths (some out of misguided pride, others out of well-founded fear) to prove they were of undiluted “Aryan blood.” The doctrine of “Volk” (identity based on blood and race) was used as the rationale to end the lives of millions of people and bring untold suffering to millions more. A few brave souls in Germany at this time, people such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoffer, declared that the concept of Volk was nothing short of paganism. It is idolatry, they said, to maintain that a person be defined by their racial identity rather than as a being created in the image of God. Bonhoffer’s act of courage cost him his life at the hands of the pagans. It was in the tradition of Barth and Bonhoffer that Martin Luther King spoke of his dream of the day when a person would be judged not by the color of their skin (identity based on blood and race) but upon their character; Dr. King understood that our true character (our identity, our very being) derives from only one Source.

  2. Earnest says:

    I truly appreciate your historical perspective on these issues. It is a reminder that these problems have roots far far deeper than the problems we have in our American society. It is both frightening to think that not much progress has been made over centuries, and that knowledge can easily cause one to just throw in the proverbial towel, and yet it is heartening to remember and learn that there have been enlightened voices out there, no matter how lonely the voices, that have cried out for the insanity to end. And successful or not, I have to hold onto hope that even if only a few each generation hear the cry, progress, however incremental, is being made. Thanks for your perspective.

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