Not Feeling It
March 8, 2012 Leave a comment
Radioscope’s Electronic Urban Report, September 8, 1995
ON THE BOOKSHELF: BARACK OBAMA
What does it mean to be black in America? Chicago civil rights attorney Barack Obama has been asking himself the question his whole life. Obama is the product of a multi-racial, multi-cultural union — his father is an African from Kenya; his mother, a white American from Kansas. It’s this mixed bag of racial and cultural diversity that spawned Obama’s quest to understand his two cultures and his own identity in black America — which is also the subject of his first book “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.”
“A lot of the struggles I had were similar to those that young African Americans face, ” says Obama. “My struggles were also different in the sense that having come from a multi-cultural family, I also had to deal with racial suspicion within my own family. I talk about a story in the book where my grandmother indicates that she’s fearful about a black pan handler and the conversations I have to have about how that makes me feel (as a black man). Those are the kinds of issues that I had to face and continue to have to face.”
As the first black president of Harvard Law School’s prestigious journal, the “Harvard Law Revue,” Obama practiced his open door policy — working with whites and conservatives as well as blacks and liberals. But the results were not as positive as he’d planned. White students criticized Obama for courting media attention to advance his own progressive social agenda, while blacks believed he was selling out.
“At Harvard, as is true in a lot of college campuses, some black folks were of the view that any communication with white conservatives was a betrayal of the cause,” he says. But, “it doesn’t benefit us to cut off communications from the larger society. We may not agree with them, but we don’t need to demonize them, in fact I think trying to demonize them ends up being counter productive, because they definitely are going to shut off their ears and not listen to our legitimate grievances.”
Obama, who does extensive voter registration work and campaigns to improve Chicago’s public schools, says one day he’d like to run for public office.
Emphases are my own. This is the article in its entirety. The full newsletter can be found here.