Aside from the fact that I feel the man is a very inspiring politician with stances I agree on and an honesty rarely found in politics, there’s another reason I respect Barack Obama so highly – for getting so far in this world, not as a Black man, but as a Mixed Race man.
Upon winning the presidential election, the topic came up of what kind of dog he would be getting for his daughters, whereupon he made the comment "I think we’ll have to get a mutt…….like me".
I remember making a similar comment less than a year ago. I forget the conversation details, but I remember at one stage referring to myself as "a mutt", and getting some looks from the people around me, and comments like "You shouldn’t refer to yourself like that".
Of course, my intention was not to be derogatory about myself, it was just a tongue-in-cheek remark. For my entire life, I have been the minority of minorities. It was increasingly difficult to find people that could relate to not just one of my ethnic backgrounds (including that side of my families morals, values and beliefs), but the other one too.
Just like every other mixed race person on the planet, it wasn’t so easy to find my own identity with so few role models. I found myself being able to relate to black artists like Tupac as well as white artists like Kurt Cobain, finally finding an artist that not only balanced the two visually, but musically as well when I discovered Prince with his sexually-charged mix of raw black funk with the tearing guitars of rock n’ roll that has somehow become the domain of the white man (but that’s another topic).
And then came 2008, the year that changed everything. Not only does Barack Obama become the most powerful man in the world, but Lewis Hamilton (also mixed) becomes the youngest Formula 1 champion of all time. Suddenly, those all-too-recent days where people still felt it was acceptable to use terms like "half-caste" have been whisked out of my mind and the future has never felt brighter for my people.
Of course, the prevalent racism of the world will always mean that we mixed-race people with one white parent will identify more with our ethnic side rather than our Caucasian side. Just look at the African-Americans acceptance of Obama as one of them compared to all the White folks who won’t even realize he has a White mother. To them, if your skin isn’t pearly white, you aren’t one of them, and unfortunately that’s an issue that we all have to face.
But, I’ll be damned if that stops me from expressing who I am, whenever I feel like it. If that means my Asian and Black friends are going to look at me weird when I let down my hair, throw up the heavy metal salute and head to a concert full of mostly White folks and headbang for two hours, and if that means my White friends are going to look at me weird when my hair is in braids, I’m rocking the latest Sean John or Ecko gear with my bandana facing the side, then that’s fine with me. Identity crisis? Nah dogg, I’m a mutt. And I’m fucking proud of it. Peace.