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« Darfur: Strategic Chad falls to rebels; will France intervene? | Main | The international conversations Black America's not having: Reading Yvonne Bynoe »

03 February 2008




I got your points...you posed the question whether people realized 2 facts...that the US still wouldn't be electing a Black person who was descended from slaves and that Obama was not from the "indegenous" (whatever that means) black population.

I just chose to point out that this conversation is probably not getting a lot of play because it really doesn't *belong* in the current electoral discussion...it is unecessarily divisive and offensive to me as a "recent" black immigrant.

We will just have to agree to disagree.


Don, sorry that you seem to have entirely missed my points however thank you for your feedback.



I have to say the elements of your blog that attempted to segment Africans recently immigrating to the US and African Americans who are descendant of slaves, did not give me a really good laugh at all but left me somewhat offended but more so scratching my head at where your argument in insisting on pointing out Obama's heritage was coming from. Is it not an argument no different than voting for, or voting against somebody based soley on their race? Or as in Africa we suffer from voting for or against somebody soley for their tribe?

"Oh he is an uncircumcised Luo and not one of us"
"Oh he is a greedy Kikuyu and will just look after his own"
"Oh he is a cunning Kamba cannot be trusted as not on of us"

I guarrantee you, the moment you begin to look away from a candidates qualifications and leadership virtues, you are dooming youself to a political mindset no different than what Kenyans are suffering from right now with their tribal politics and attitudes.

To answer your question..If were to migrate to Australia legally how would I frame my relationship to Australia's indegenous people....well no different to how I frame it to how I am here in the US...why would I be any less Australian?......Why should my children be any less Australian if they were born and raised there? If my aim was to be as Australian as I could be, why should i suffer a penalty for being an immigrant?...Should we also open this conversation up to Native American Indians then who are indegenous americans?....Should therefore all other non-Indian groups be penalized? I really don't see where you were going with that argument...

It is interesting that as a black person in this country I guess I get to "benefit" from suffering from the mainstream stereotypes of being black (by non-blacks) and now it seems from slave-descendant African Americans like yourself I shudder to even make the distinction). You are not the first person I have heard this rhetoric from....and I'm sure not the last. I personally think it is harmful and unecessary. Should slavery and its legacy remain in the American conversation...YES...should it play a factor in determining somebody's rights in America as an American....NO NO NO....Americans would not be what it is without all groups, both willing immigrants and forced migrants (slaves).

I suspect the conversation you should be championing perhaps is the case for reparations for slavery and how the legacy of slavery continues to manifest itself in current American society....but you shouldn't be penalizing current African immigrants for the evils of history we had nothing to do with. This conversation has no place in the current American election discussion, especially in relation to Obama's candidacy.



I did not mean to ridicule your comments; however I find this line of reasoning to be offensive. I did not realize (from your initial email) that this discussion about Obama was going to head down the road of his ancestry. To debate Obama's positions on the issues deserves a vigorous conversation. I'm all for that. However, I believe if you want to make the argument that the standard of being an African American or Black in America is based upon the existence of slavery in one's gene pool -- you should be prepared to be challenged and challenged vigorously. In my opinion, your position is so narrow in scope it makes you look silly? Your argument makes you sound like a racist? It negates everything that MLK stood for and died for. What do you think about his dream? You disagree?

I think many people of mixed race will be very offended -- and they should be. I'm offended. I have mixed race children. Yes, I have slavery in my gene pool -- but what if I my father was born in another country -- not even Africa but he was black. So my child should be denied the presidency or there should be legislation to rule out those who could run based up their where their drop of black blood came from? There are MILLIONS of mixed race people in this country who didn't and don't have any choice about the location in which they were conceived to fit the parameters of what you describe as qualifying to "be black."

People can't put their genetics back in the bottle if you are Black in America.

Barak did not know his father.. his father died when he a child. He was raised by his phenomenal maternal family from Kansas that moved to Hawaii. He did not even learn of his African roots until he was adult; and met his African grandparents for the first time.

The past and the condition and presence of slavery should not define who we are people or how we define others. There are MANY Latin American, Mexican and others who have slavery in their ancestry as a result of the GLOBAL slave trade.

Just because the man at the conference was from Cuba doesn't mean that he had no ancestors who were slaves. It is more likely that he did.

Lastly - if you stand for peace -- if you truly stand for peace (this is the most important thing to me) -- you would not make, accept or perpetrate these types of rhetorical race-based arguments that insinuate that one person's blackness is better or worse than another's because of the existence of slavery in one's gene pool.. it sounds like hate. Real hate and anger.

None of the Democratic candidates STAND for this kind of hate and narrow focus. They are all way beyond this envelope.

Our country needs to grow up and heal many wounds.. and the argument you make does not elevate the conversation about who we are and what we can be; and where we've been and what we've learned about it.

Hate sucks.. and sounding like hate or anger does not elevate the conversation.

We should all be judged by the content of our character not our color..did I assume wrongly that you supported this part of Martin Luther King's dream.

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp


Hello Don. Thanks for "stumbling" upon Marian's Blog. I'm sure many folks will get a really good laugh hearing my writing compared to some Republicans. There are several other key issues pertinent to this discussion which are hardly ever taken seriously or discussed, and virtually never treated as "mainstream" political issues. One is the basic fact that the United States is a "white settler society", like Australia and quite a few other countries, especially all over the Americas. No. two is the question - applicable in the U.S. just as in Africa and Asia - of what "migration" and "immigration" really mean for and what effect they have on historically and institutionally disempowered local populations. The Afrodescendants of the Americas - including Black Americans - are descended (in part) from the almost forgotten survivors of the "largest forced migration" in human history - the Transatlantic slave trade. Yet to this day public policy leaders do not reference the Transatlantic or Indian Ocean slave trades as pivotal events when they talk about basic issues of "human migration", including that of today. In terms of "immigration" Christopher Columbus' navigational error is not viewed by most Blacks and indigenous people of the Americas in at all the same way it is still routinely portrayed by many countries and also white individuals, although nowadays some whites, to their credit, do offer a more honest critique of the "European adventure" into this region. If you had migrated to Australia instead of the United States, how would you frame your relationship to Australia's aborigines? While national immigration authorities do not ask this question of immigrants it remains a serious and very real question, particularly from the viewpoint of those of us who are "the (marginalised and rendered 'invisible') Global South in the North." I thank you for writing.


I stumbled upon your blog. You have some very interesting very wide ranging articles...I was also a John Edwards follower and was sad to see him bow out. I think all the Democratic candidates have great qualities and it is refreshing and exciting to know whatever the result is of the Democractic primary, the ticket will be formidable come November.

What disturbed me about some of your writing was the undertone that I got that from your blog that being a "recent" African immigrant makes you any less African American than African Americans who are descendant of slaves. I think the tragedy of slavery should never be forgotten and played down, but to use it to further divide people of color in times when we should be looking to the future to build on what people like MLK fought for to create better futures for generations of immigrants to come. What is the purpose in keeping pointing out this distinction and now especially with the Obama candidacy? If he is a champion of issues that affect African Americans (which he is), should it matter if his ancestors were slaves, or a Kenyan student who came from Kenya out of his own pursuit for a better future?

As a "recent" African immigrant when I read your writing, it honestly evoked sentiments in me akin to what I feel when I hear many Republicans (who forget that they are descendants of immigrants themselves) who keep calling for immigration reform in the most inhuman and brutal ways. Just because their ancestors came through Ellis Island that doesn't make them any more American than immigrants who come to this country today in search for a better fuuture in the form of the American dream. The tags used to describe us new immigrants ("aliens") and the perceived attitudes that we are any less entitled to the American dream undermines the very virtues on which this contry was founded.

So, I hope to read more articles of yours that would champion your candidate with the arguments based on the merit of their service and future plans for the country. I think both barack and hillary are great for this country. I look forward to what they will do in the future as I raise my children as African Americans in the USA.

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