One convention priority, according to strategists, will be to recast Obama's life story to serve as a rejoinder to rumors about his patriotism and religion that have preyed on his exotic origins. Those worldly immigrant roots figured prominently in his 2004 speech, but many Democrats say that this year he should put greater emphasis on biographical elements that highlight elements of middle-class, all-Americanness.Which just proves my point about how much the Globe (and the corporate media in general) sucks. What I want to know is, when will people finally wise up to the immense stupidity of the right-wing canard that anyone with "worldly immigrant roots" isn't really an American? I hate to break it to the Globe, but pretty much everyone in the entire country came from immigrant roots. Maybe your parents and your grandparents and your great-grandparents were born on U.S. soil, but chances are your great-great-grandparents were born somewhere else. Interesting too how those of northern European descent get a pass on this criticism. If your forebears came to the U.S. from Germany or some similarly lily-white place, all of a sudden you're not so exotic.
My ancestors, in the relatively recent past, spent all day working in the broiling Sicilian sun and probably had darker skin than Barack Obama. Am I, as an Italian-American whose American-born roots only stretch back as far as my own parents (my grandparents were born on Italian soil) "exotic" too? What is my daughter, with her mix of Asian and European genes? Mighty "exotic," I'd wager, at least according to the nearsighted fools who pass for professional journalists these days.
At the end of the day, isn't this simply racism? "Exotic origins" my ass--Obama was born in Hawaii, which, the last time I checked, was part of the United States. But, you know, a bunch of swarthy-looking types live there, or so the "low-information voter" types the Globe is evidently written for seem to believe, so Hawaii is somehow suspect. Not only that, but half Obama's background is lily-whitey-white, which interestingly never seems to come up in absurd news stories like this one. His mother's maiden name was "Dunham." Doesn't get much whiter than that. But the Kenyan father cancels out the WASP portion of Obama's backround in the nearly fact-free corporate media narrative about his life.
Which also brings up another point, which is how absurd it is to parse these racial details to such an extent. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you go far enough back in your own history, you'll find all kinds of colors, races and religions. Anyone who thinks "Well, we're Irish Catholic today, we were in my grandparents' time, and we always have been" chances are is speaking in blissful ignorance of some long-ago dalliance between a forebear and some dark-skinned slave girl.
If this country is ever going to move forward, we're going to have to get over our juvenile obsession with race (which I know sounds like an enormous cliche, but it's still true). When I was home on maternity leave with the Peanut, I stumbled across a snippet of an old movie on TV that was amazingly eye-opening. Here I was having recently given birth to a baby with a perfect mix of Asian and European features, and across my TV screen flashed a scene of pandemonium in a hospital maternity ward. The dialogue-free scene showed three new mothers--white, black and Asian--each being handed a baby wrapped tightly in blankets. One after the other they unwrapped the bundles to find a baby of a different race! The white mother held an Asian baby, the Asian mother held a black baby, the black mother held a white baby. Against a backdrop of music appropriate for a light comedy, they rang their bedside alarm bells and gesticulated wildly, calling for help.
The movie appeared to date from about the early 1960s, but as we can see from the kind of bullshit being spewed in our "mainstream" press these days, this attitude of rigid racial divisions still prevails. I had to laugh as I sat in my living room, clothing covered in spit-up, breast-pump at my side, piles of unfolded laundry everywhere, and thought about my own situation and that of my new multiracial baby. In a movie produced not even a decade before I was born, the idea of a multiracial couple was preposterous, obscene. But it was my life in 2004. I'm far from the only one. There's a kid we see on our local playground from time to time whose hair is light brown and her perfectly Asian-shaped eyes are grayish blue. "Exotic" in some ways perhaps, but thankfully ordinary enough, at least in our neck of the woods.
How silly our corporate media is going to look when America looks beyond the media's tired old stereotypes to elect its first multiracial president. It's a moment I hope the Peanut will look back on fondly as she grows up.