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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Humanity Knows No Color

As a student at one of the most culturally assorted Universities in Massachusetts, I look around at the plethora of people in my classes and sharing the Campus Center food court with me and I revel in the diversity that surrounds me. There are not many more places where you can look around and find representation from every continent of the globe. It makes me wonder, with such harmonious diversity surrounding me, why must there continue to remain racial and ethnic divides that threaten much of the nation, the world?

There have recently been many articles and news reports spanning across various media circuits discussing the nature of black people in politics and how it is also the black community (not simply or exclusively the white race) that tends to divide or categorize their own people within the African/black race. The most recent and forerunning of these reports: Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. With all of the hype surrounding Obama’s race for the Presidency, and the many references to the color of his skin, political activists, the media, and commonplace citizens alike have begun to ask: “Who is authentically ‘black’ in America?”

In the case of Barrack Obama, it seems as though being African-American is a problem for both white voters and black voters alike. The white voters exhibit racial prejudice based on the color of Obama’s skin, saying that he is not truly an American because his ancestors come from Africa (a racist conclusion in and of itself, I agree.) The black population of voters, whom you would think would come together and support a man of their own race have denounced Obama because he is not “black enough” to be truly an African-American, and he does not fit into their further subcategories of black ethnic divides.

Many of the people who denounce Obama, both black and white, claim that he is not a “legitimate African.” By this term, Obama’s critics contest, it simply means that he does not know the trials and strife of African slavery, because his father is from Kenya and his mother is a white Kansas woman. While I completely agree and sympathize with African-Americans whose ancestors were forced or born into slavery, I can’t understand what makes someone of particular African heritage any more understanding of the slavery their ancestors endured than a black man or woman from a different African ethnicity? I understand my query may seem controversial, but it is simply a matter of brotherhood and unity among races and humanity.

A recent editorial in The Boston Herald (“Focus Not on the Skin-Deep”, 2/17) claims “that Obama self-identifies as both black and African-American.” Since when did these terms become antonymous? Why does one have to reflect a certain level of African heritage, while the other simply refers to the color of ones skin? Why must there continue to be a divide among the black community between who is “black enough” to be considered a member of the race and another who may have lighter skin, and therefore may not be entitled to all of the self-induced “rights” or anger towards “the white man?” It can be said that while not all blacks/African Americans (I’m not even entirely sure which one I am referring to) have had ancestors who were formal slaves, that it cannot be denied that blacks throughout history as well as today have had and continue to have racial stigmas placed upon them simply for the color of their skin. It does not seem to matter the shade of their “blackness” but rather the simple fact that they are of African descent. It says right in the article that “blacks whose families experienced slavery and colonialism as majorities in the Caribbean and blacks whose families experienced slavery and colonialism in minorities in the United States” often and “insurmountably” segregate themselves into two very different categories. There is a difference between pride in one’s ethnicity (for example, I’m Italian and proud, just like an African who hails from Haiti is proud to have that heritage) and a sense of entitlement or superiority based upon past events in history that link you to a certain ethnic group. It seems as though this black separation is giving credence not only to the racism which is received by the “white man”, but also giving rise to a new form of prejudice and racial stigmatization which can perhaps be referred to as “ethnicism.”

Those who are in favor of Obama, as well as those opposed to Obama should “focus not on the skin-deep” (as Lewis and others suggest) but rather on the true issues that a President should be prepared to deal with and address: health care, social security, um, the war in Iraq, perhaps? The focus on the “skin-deep” is only further perpetuating a racial and ethnic divide that people of all colors and heritage should be looking to eliminate. After all, the true binding race, the human race, should not discriminate.