Amidst concern that the White House Press office lacked diversity, it was revealed that 36-year old Bill Burton, the Deputy Press Secretary is biracial. Throughout his career as a communications director for both John Kerry's and Richard Gephardt's Presidential campaigns, and later national press secretary for Obama's successful bid, he'd never publicly spoken about having a black father and white mother.His background came to light when the media called inquiring about the issue of blacks in the press office and was erroneously told that by a press assistant that Mr. Burton was white. He subsequently had to clarify to surprised colleagues that despite his appearance, he wasn't white. It is wonderful to have a self-identified biracial individual with such a pivotal role in the White House and it's nice to see us mixed-race folks finally comin' up.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
On Saturday March 7, the 45th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I revisited the Smithsonian exhibit Road to Freedom, which focused on the press' role in bringing the Civil Rights Movement to the forefront of the American consciousness . My first time around, I was brought to tears gazing upon the photographs of those who'd sacrificed their physical safety, the comforts of home and even their lives to fight for the basic rights of citizenship. As I gazed at a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. laying in a glass-top coffin, it finally dawned on me that although his death is a still-immeasurable hole in the fabric of the ongoing American story, if he'd not tirelessly marched, selflessy utilized the passive resistance techniques that make him immortal, and made the greatest of sacrifices, we would probably not be where we are today. He laid his exhausted self down so others could pick up his baton and lead. I shared these thoughts with those I attended my second viewing with, members of Swirl, Inc, a group focusing on multiracial people, their families and their supporters, who brought up the unspoken struggles of those who fought for the right to love, marry and have children with whomever they wanted, regardless of race. Those who struggled unrelentingly, like Richard and Mildred Loving, should have their place in discussions right alongside Dr. King or Rosa Parks, for they did as much for human liberty and demonstrated the strongest of virtues, that of love.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
With Barack Obama in office for around a month, the fearmongering in written form has begun. Just two weeks ago, the NY Post published a cartoon which, on the surface was inspired by the stimulus bill, but clearly had racial undertones. Then, Dean Grose, the mayor of Los Alamitos, CA, decided to resign rather than deal with the debacle he started after he sent around an e-mail depicting the White House lawn as covered in watermelons. It was titled "No Easter Egg Hunt This Year". Now that a person of color is in charge, those who're accustomed to being at the top of the power hierarchy in this country are losing their minds at the demographic and cultural changes afoot, and this is their desperate, rather pathetic attempt at putting us back in our place. Well, now that we're finally represented in the Oval Office our voices can be heard and it's gonna take a little more than some whiny articles to bring us down. back to the drawing board, fellas, better luck next time.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Two weeks ago, I went to a lecture of historian C.R. Gibbs, a specialist on the history of the African Diaspora. The subject matter, "Black Presidents Before Obama", was a speech concerning historical black heads of state in Latin America and the Caribbean, supplemented with the seemingly unfounded belief that this region's governments have denied the African descendancy of their citizens, past and present. During the Q&A, I was the first to shoot up my hand to inquire about the differing perceptions of race in these countries as opposed to the U.S, especially regarding the one-drop rule. The convoluted answer I received, stating, in effect that these things do not matter, only served to solidify my understanding of and strength in my dual heritage. Although there were certain points on which I agreed, specifically concerning the effects of colonialism on populations of color, I take great issue with distorting history to further one's agenda, especially when it appears to denigrate those who don't fit into the confining boxes we've invented in this society.