I’ll tell you something that is pretty disingenuous, but it is that I am not the most articulate person in the world. I would have never imagined that the things I say on this blog would make some people think I am disingenuous.
And that’s because I’m not. I was at a conference once, and someone said to me something along the lines of, “You should run for president,” and I laughed. “Wait, what? You mean like a third party? We already have a president? What are you talking about? I’m not running for office.” I was pretty shocked that someone who was that smart and had done so much for the world thought that I was serious about running for office.
This is actually pretty interesting. This is the same person who told me that Barack Obama would never be elected president because he is a black man. But while I was at the convention, I met someone who was running for the president. She said she was running as a third party candidate and that she would be in the same position as Barack Obama, but she would be the only black person on the ballot. So she would be up against Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
That’s right, disingenuity. Her campaign slogan was “We believe in the fundamental American principles of individual liberty, civil rights, and personal responsibility.” She also made a point of making sure to mention that she is not an African-American.
This sort of disingenuous language is something that people of color have to contend with in elections. People of color often hear it as “I am not black but I am the president,” but a lot of times this is a euphemism for, “I am only half black, but I am the president.” This is a subtle form of race-bait that only serves to marginalize the minority candidate.
So as a person of color, I always like to know how I qualify as the president, but I don’t always want to know the terms I use. For a while, I was wondering if she was just making a stab at being the first female president of the United States, but then I realized she’s a self-proclaimed feminist. So I just assume she’s black.
But if you think of the president as a racial epithet, then you might not feel so comfortable with Obama as someone who is not white. That’s because when Obama is the president, he is an African-American and that is not acceptable to whites. So for instance, Obama is white because he is a black man. Obama is a black man because he is a black president.
Its a little bit more complicated than that. The president is not defined by who he is, but by who he is not, he has his own distinct identity. If he is white, then he is simply a white man. If he is black, then he is black. He is black, so he is black. He is white, so he is white. This is a lot of muddying the waters.
The disingenuousness of this statement is a bit harder to pin down, but it was a big part of the reason why Obama was elected. He was the first black president, so he is black. He is not black, so he is white. He is white, so he is white. He is black, so he is black. This is very complicated stuff that has had a lot of people scratching their heads, but it really comes down to this.
Obama’s campaign was based in part on issues of race, and he was very successful because he didn’t just come out and say, “I am black, I am president.” He was clear, “I am black, I am a black man, and I will not pretend that I don’t look like other people have to be. I will not pretend that I don’t have a different skin color than you guys. I am black and I am the president of the United States.