Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Dean Of Cincinnati Makes Mainstream Media With "Multiracial" Rant

The Dean of Cincinnati, as mere mortal "Jason Haap", had an op-ed piece run in The Cincinnati Enquirer about Obama and his own children being "multiracial" rather than "Black" or "African-American".

First of all, his writing cleans up pretty well for something serious I've noticed, and I certainly understand where he's coming from.

On Friday night at Mensa I saw the fascinating one-woman performance of Non-Vertical Girl by Renee Alper. It starts out with a review of all the terms used over the last couple of centuries to refer to someone with limited use of their limbs. These terms have tended to change over time because each and every one of them eventually came to have a distinctly negative connotation - crippled, invalid, and even "handicapped" and "disabled".

Of course the terms used to refer to the descendants of African slaves (and those who physically and culturally identify with them) have a remarkably similar history.

Two that now tend to cause offense are "Negro" and "colored" - despite the fact that the one is merely the Latin name for the color black, and another version of the other can be a term of considerable pride - "of color".

The two terms that tend not to be offensive currently are "Black" and "African-American" - despite the fact that my grandmother (God rest her soul) used to tell me that in the early 20th century "Black" was sufficiently offensive to start a fist fight.

Now why in the world would someone go to such effort to make sure such terms would not be applied to one's children and one's President?

The only explanation I can figure out is that to The Dean, the terms "Black" and "African-American" must somehow be offensive.

As I've tried to explain to my poor, misguided friend over and over again, the topic is HIDEOUSLY complicated. How complicated I had no idea until I showed a photograph of my wife to a friend of mine from Puerto Rico and my Puerto Rican friend said, "Oh, no ... she's not Black ... she's Cuban."

Then of course when I found out my wife's family on her father's side actually WAS from Cuba I almost fell over.

But it brings up an interesting illustration. Same person - in Cincinnati, she's Black; in Puerto Rico, she's Cuban; and I have a strong suspicion in Cuba - she's White. Go figure that one out.

Same with Obama. In Chicago, he's "Black". In Kenya, I have a strong suspicion he's "Arab".

In any event, I think the whole thing boils down to the "charming negress" line from Star Trek when Uhura says, "But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words. We've each learned to be delighted with what we are."

But I think what we could really used here is The Dean doing the cheek swab bit on his older boy and sending it off to FamilyTreeDNA for mitochondrial and Y-chromosome analysis and AncestryByDNA for nuclear DNA analysis. It's my guess The Dean would get the shock of his life off that set of data.



At December 9, 2008 at 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Axinar, forget the notion of the DNA cheek swab. Haap would find a way to get his shorts all wadded up in a knot & argue the test is flawed, without any sensible explanation. His explanation would be the usual argumentative babble.

As someone mentioned in a previous post, Haap needs a therapy gift card so he can get some counseling in order to get his head unstuck from his posterior cavity.

At December 10, 2008 at 6:41 PM, Blogger The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Ax, you've missed the mark on this one. I don't really care what my DNA says. I could be 5% or 95% African DNA and I wouldn't feel any differently about myself.

Though, perhaps I might question what people should call me!

Of course it's not offensive to be called "black." But is it accurate? Why do you so quickly want to defend the status quo of racial designations? You support the oppressive hegemony!

Race, in our culture, needs to be deconstructed. I'm actively seeking to deconstruct it. What's the problem?

At December 11, 2008 at 4:34 AM, Blogger Crankster said...

It may shock you to note that I agree with The Dean. I've always wondered why everyone ignores that Obama's mother is White.

It sounds like some classification system to identify that someone has a weakness. And being Black is not a defect.

Why call him Black when he isn't fully Black, but half-White and half-Black?

It discounts the White parent's collaboration in producing the child. That's wrong.

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