Is Barak Obama Black ?

Published on Friday, November 7, 2008

Is Barak Obama Black ?

Ajoy Roy


Although I was not crazy like my many countrymen in Bangladesh and elsewhere over the landside victory of democrat Barak Hosen Obama, I was glad. Because like many Americans I also got tired of Junior Bush's way of handling American politics and policies, which surely affected rest of the world too including Bangladesh. America needed a desperate change from Bush administration - a change that can inspire the nation once again. In the eye of the world community America has become morally, economically even culturally a degraded state. Only a phenomenal change can save them, the Americans rightly realized. They knew that a demoralized republican president like John McCain is not the man who can bring the most needed change. Needless to say the majority of Americans, white, black, yellow or brown found in Obama the man who can bring the change and inspire the nation.


Americans put Obama in the White-house not because he is black, but because of his ideals, thoughts, and programmes of national as well as international interest. But because he is a zealous democrat believing in unity of American people as a whole and strength of the people. Therefore, his call for working together with no matter, republicans or democrats is not just a victorious rhetoric utterance. I welcomed the victory of Obama because he was a democrat candidate with commitment and dedication, not as an individual with whatever excellent qualities he might have. I supported his candidacy and welcomed his victory not because he is a Black American, but because he is liberal and secularist. And I believe most of the electorate colleges voted him not that he is black. Those who think that he overwhelmly won the election as his skin is black are doing injustice to the white Americans, who are the numerically far superior and were key factors of victory of Obama and not the black Americans. And I believe that this year's election is probably finest expression of overcoming colour prejudice by the American people. Many political pundits of Bangladesh apprehended that the white Americans, though manifestedly supported non-white Obama, will vote for McCain when they enter the secluded room. How pathetically these pundits have been proved foolish.


One thing puzzled me why the Bangladeshis in Dhaka got crazy on the election night as if they were participating in their own election. And you have to be in Dhaka to see how these people celebrated the victory of Obama. This is possible only in Dhaka. During world cup football matches people go crazy for Argentina or Brazil, but why ? What a sentimental people are we! In gossip circles, in restaurant, office tables only topic of discussion is the victory of Obama, as if his own person has been put in the white-house. What astonished me that these people took pride that Obama is black, some go further saying that he is a Moslem. In one such discussion table in a local bank, where apart from me a TV compeer was present, when I asked one gentleman with dark black skin rejoicing the victory, 'Are you a Black ?'. He immediately reacted sharply denying that he is black. Such skin sensitive we are. I further asked him 'why are you then supporting a black candidate?' The man fumbled saying, 'no no, I supported him for his political opinions and qualities. And, he is a Muslim.' There you are! Obama did not win the election for his black colour, nor his religious faith. Many Bangladeshis in Dhaka thought that He is a Muslim (sic).


Real challenge of the president elect Obama is lying ahead. Generation of hopes and aspirations is one thing and materialization of those things is another thing. I am a pragmatic man, and I don't see Obama has a magic band. In coming years he will have to compromise on many issues, national & international. As an American he has to keep the idea of most American's believe that 'America is the leader of the world community' alive. He has to take pragmatic steps to ease the tension raised because of newly generated East-West cold war created by the recent Bush policy. He has to revolutionize the Middle East & Iran issues to safeguard the national interest of USA. Above all, he has to take sufficiently effective measures against economic recession resulting from following wrong policy of 'global free market economy' and excessive dependence on 'hyper capitalism' by the American for years after years. In the process, few rich Americans have become richer and wealthier, thereby controlling the entire economy by very few. But common men including toiling masses and smaller capitalists group became poorer and poorer. Even under Obama regime, these very few will try to keep upholding every aspect American supremacy, will try to keep control over the world strategic resources, will try continuing active support to Israelis. Because these are considered as America's national interest. Surely Obama cannot go to take measures that may please me and you beyond country's 'national interest'. Will or can Obama redefine his country's 'national interest' that will enshrine essence of humanism in American thought, policy and administration. I really wonder. But surely he can make an honest effort, a sincere humble beginning.


Why are we calling Obama a Black? Is it because we feel some sort of nearness with him- a kinship feeling with him as we being non white or coloured, if not black? Or is it emanated from our latent hatred towards the white Americans? Are we not then encouraging doctrine of another kind of apartheid ? Many Bengalis in Dhaka see Obama's victory as the conquer of America by the blacks, at least the beginning of it. It is a pity that they do not see Obama's victory as the victory of liberalism, victory of democracy, victory of secularism, and above all victory of great ideals of humanism


Why one should call the President elect a Black because his father was a black Kenyan ? Why do we want to expose his Muslim identity because his father was a Muslim ? I remember in our days we used to cheer Mohammad Ali (previously Cassias Clay) to win every boxing fight not because of excellent skill but because he was a Black Muslim. Is it not an expression of communalism in milder form?


If one claims Obama a black as well as a Muslim because of his father's colour and religion, then one can equally claim him as white and a Christian for his mother's

Colour (white) and religion (Christianity)


I am not sure, how religious Mr. Obama is. But his official religion is 'United Church of Christ', a small school of Protestant Church. I would rather prefer to call him just Obama, a man with noble ideas, at best a non white racially speaking.


In today's USA a new non-white, non-black mixed generation has come up over the years through intermingling between whites, blacks, browns and yellows. If Obama is called black then we sub-continental peoples, the black-brownish emetic Arabs of Middle East, most peoples of Latin America are too to be termed as blacks too ! I will finally raise the question in today's contest who are the blacks sociologically as well as anthropologically, and what right one has to call a person a black ?


Ajoy Roy


November 8, 2008

Prof. Ajoy K. Roy is a scientist and human rights activist writes from Bangladesh. he can be reached at

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