The President is not black



My dad sent me this photograph today. My only hope is that Obama will actually be the mirror opposite of Bush as this picture might suggest.

I also got sent this article on the fact that Obama is not black, but of mixed descent, which I believe is an important distinction and have mentioned before. In fact, I think that it does a disservice to Obama's heritage to label him as something he is not. Surely his parent's inter-racial relationship is something to be admired considering the social climate of the time when it began.

What has this got to do with photography? Well, photography deals with appearance, and it often very easy for people and situations to be mis-represented because of how they appear. Just as it is the responsibility of people to accuratly observe Obama's heritage, so it is the responsibility of photographers to do their best to accuratley portray the people and the places they photograph. I do not subscribe to the notion of the infallible veracity of photographs, but they are a form of truth and their power to persuade should not be underestimated.



4 comments:

Stan B. said...

That said, enough emphasis cannot be made of the fact that "the one drop rule" has long dominated the minds, laws and history of this particular country. Various shades were duly noted, classified, and categorized- but they all led back to black.

It is only within recent (very recent) memory that the nearly infinite shades and colors of the earth have finally begun to free themselves of the shame and degradation forced upon them...

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/
frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/
onedrop.html

Tom White said...

Interesting article, thanks Stan. As it points out, choosing to align oneself with a particular aspect of one's ancestry is very different from having that association imposed upon you.

Anonymous said...

Obama identifys as black.
when people see mixed raced people walking down the street they don't say look at that mixed raced person, they say look at that black person. If you didn't know that Obama's mother was white, by looking at him you'd assume he was a black man. just like alot of the mixed raced people you pass by on a daily basis. for some reason white people want to take this away from black people, it's not suprising at all.

Tom White said...

Anonymous - I'm not sure I understand - why is it assumed that mixed race people have to identify with one or the other of their parent's heritage? And what exactly are white people taking away from black people in this instance? In my opinion people of mixed race are living breathing examples of how nonsensical the imposed racial divides are. By labelling someone with a racial tag that ignores half their ancestry and forcing them to 'identify' you are perpetrating exactly the kind of divisions that we should be overcoming.