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Barack Obama is Not America's First Black President

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Googling the words "Obama first black president"- returns almost 2.4 million Web pages. But no matter how many times we say it, it's just not true. Barack Obama is not America's first black president. We haven't had a black president, yet.

Barack Obama is half-black and half-white. His father was a black man from Kenya. His mother was a white woman from Kansas. We all know this. So why do we call him our first black president?

Imagine a time in the future when America has its first actual, 100% black president. That person will be incorrectly -- and unfairly -- known as America's second black president.

What it boils down to is racism on two fronts.

On one hand, it's anti-black. If you are one-half black and one-half white, you're not white -- you're black. So when we say that Obama is black, the implication is that if you have some black in you, you're black. To be white, you need to be 100% white -- that is, "untainted"- by the black genes. Calling Obama the first black president reinforces this racist viewpoint.

On the other hand, calling Obama a black president is anti-white. What about his poor mother? Do her white genes not count for anything? Imagine calling Obama a white president, completely discounting his black background. We'd have a race war on our hands. But calling Obama our first black president, then, is the same as calling him just another white president.

But because of our racially-divided history, calling him our first black president is acceptable and actually preferable. In a way, it has a conciliatory nature. But this practice further highlights the racial divide by looking backwards. We had a bunch of white presidents -- now here's a black one. Now it seems like the beginning of some kind of balance. Does that mean we'd need over 40 more consecutive "black"- presidents after Obama to make things right?

Of course not. But he should be called our first mixed-race president. That is not only correct, but it's forward-looking. It's a way to help heal the country's racial wounds. Obama can say, "Look at me, I bring am the best of both worlds. In me, racism has been solved. He is a symbol of the power of miscenegenation.

Mr Obama is a product of equal parts black and white. Shouldn't both aspects be celebrated equally?

To the future and true "first black president of the United States," whoever you may be: You will be called the second, but always remember, you are the first.

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Reynard Loki is a New York-based artist, writer and editor. He is the environment and food editor at AlterNet.org, a progressive news website. He is also the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio whose projects (more...)

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