white like obama’s mom

I was at my boyfriend’s roommate’s birthday party in May and ended up talking to this annoying Venezuelan dude for a minute. He insisted on speaking English to me, not out of enjoyment of the language but rather out of his enjoyment of acting condescending. I think from my annoyance sprouted some talk about how I had lived in Panama as a child, and then I said something about Panamanians being different from Mexicans. He asked me oh, and how is that, and I said well, I guess one thing is you can tell a lot of Panamanians have African blood. And he gets all uppity, like, “and can you tell I have African blood?” I could a little, but right then I realized there was something I had been waiting to say my entire life: “I dunno, can you tell I have African blood?”

Not well received, although I did get some sense that I had disarmed him. Still he brushed off my “evidence.” My boyfriend thinks it’s hilarious, but I want to insist that it is probably true. Parts of my family arrived to Virginia in the 1600s , some others to North Carolina in the 1700s, and still others to Georgia during that time. Statistically there had to have been something. Ok well, I don’t really know how likely it is, but something tells me it is not unlikely. I think there was probably at least one black person in my ancestral family in the last 400 years given the racial makeup of the population where my family lived.


Alright, so there are some things I think about frequently. Miami, dance music, regular music, race, nationality, whether or not I am gen-X, linguistics and etymology, the money trail, infrastructure projects, tacos, juice… since the weekend I have also been thinking about this drunk frat boy who wrote a book, Tucker Max, a lot, who’s book I am reading because my boyfriend’s libertine friend gave it to him and it’s in English. Back to race: I just concluded while walking to work this morning that okay, I accept that Barack Obama is black even though he isn’t descended from slaves, because he chose to identify as black. Not all of us can choose to be black, but he could, and he did, and I respect and possibly envy that, and then he became president and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Okay, that was around 9:30 a.m.

Then I get on twitter this afternoon and see the collective answering me that in fact, yes, genealogists have confirmed that Barack Obama is black in the “descended from slaves” sense, through his (white) mom. So this was nice for me because I had reached my peace on this burning question in my own terms, just hours before, and now the collective/Ancestry.com/god is telling me that my own conclusion had scientifically, really been true, and it wasn’t just true because I chose to believe it was true. It is nice when that happens, you know? And not only that:

SEE I TOLD YOU, BOARDING-SCHOOL EDUCATED AFRO-VENEZUELAN DUDE AND ARROGANT FRESA BOYFRIEND. I believe there is actually maybe a chance that I am also part black, and there is actually maybe a chance that I am also part black.

Obama’s Mom ^^^^^^ and Obama. Both part black.

p.s. This also touches on my gen-X question. I don’t think the millennials obsess over race like this. I get that race is increasingly flattening out into just a social construct, but… Cross Colors


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