I watched this video yesterday of the most adorable 106 year old woman named Virginia McLaurin dancing with the President and First Lady. I got a little teary eyed when she held their hands and told them that she never thought she would see the day when she would be welcomed into the White House to meet a black president. It was a beautiful moment, and reminded me of how important it is that we see ourselves represented in our leadership. It meant something to Ms. McLaurin that she was able to look into the eyes of the President of the United States and see one of her own looking back. It was powerful and wonderful and it made me appreciate the special time in history that I am blessed to be a part of.
Unfortunately for sweet Ms. McLaurin, a black man isn’t actually in the White House. Yep…she’ll be disappointed to know that Barack Obama is not a “real” black president because, according to this interview from Republican hopeful Ben Carson, Obama was “raised white” and “didn’t grow up like [Ben Carson] did by any stretch of the imagination,” and this somehow disqualifies Obama from being the “real” first black president.
With all due respect, Mr. Carson, you need to take all the seats and sit your ass down.
There is a special place in hell for the Ben Carsons of the world who tell the Barack Obamas of the world that their life experiences and biracial background somehow disqualify them from being a true Person of Color. This incident struck a particular nerve with me because, like President Obama, my mother is white. And, also like President Obama, not so long ago I had my Person of Color status questioned by someone who implied that my life experiences and mixed blood somehow disqualified me from being who I say I am.
So, to the Ben Carsons of the world: I say, with all sincerity, eff you. You don’t get to decide whether Barack Obama or anyone else whose experience doesn’t exactly mirror yours is “enough.” You don’t get to validate your experience as a Person of Color as the One True Experience by which all people of color should be weighed and measured, whilst simultaneously whining out of the other side of your mouth, “I think the way that I’m treated, you know, by the left is racism. Because they assume because you’re black, you have to think a certain way. And if you don’t think that way, you’re ‘Uncle Tom,’ you’re worthy of every horrible epithet they can come up with…”
All the nopes in the world to you, Mr. Carson. You don’t get to have it both ways. And you most definitely do not get to decide who is and is not black enough to be black.