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.
Labels: The Dean Of Cincinnati