Tuesday, December 2, 2008

He's not black - he's also half white - what we can learn from our new "brown" president elect

President Elect Barack Obama is making some remarkable choices for his new cabinet. Most notable is his choice for Secretary of State - the honourable Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Skeptics might look upon this and muse that this is merely a case of Obama keeping his friends close and his enemies closer. Harvard MBA graduates might recognize it for what it is - a stroke of genius and brilliant strategy and logic.

The race to the White House on the Democratic side was not expected to be between these two rivals, Clinton and Obama - both senators - neither of whom had served as a governor (though, I digress here when I note that Ms. Sarah Palin is a governor and leaves much to be desired when it comes to intelligence and the ability to lead her country). Obama was the dark horse in more ways than one. Indeed, Bill Clinton got extremely testy during the final stages of the campaign - he wanted the White House badly for Hillary - really badly - I am not convinced that the country was ready to have him in it again, shenanigans and all.

What can we learn from President Elect Obama as he has made this amazing choice? The first former First Lady to be elected Senator and now she will be Madame Secretary - right up there with Madeleine Albright, (who was, incidentally, confirmed by President Bill Clinton) and Condoleeza Rice. We can learn that Obama is determined to pick the best and brightest for his administration - bright people tend to surround themselves with intellectual individuals. I recently heard him speak of being one who welcomes strong personalities when asked if he thought the cabinet was too full of strong-minded individuals.

What we should take away from this lesson is that Obama is reaching across aisles, gathering former foes, bright minds and shining stars to begin to fix this mess that we are in in our beloved United States of America. Let us all pray for him and his emerging cabinet.

On another note, I am enjoying immensely, his memoir "Dreams from my father" - I highly recommend it - great reading, thoughtful, intellectually stimulating, and above all - he addresses race in a way that is long overdue.

The headline of this post comes from a story in yesterday's Washington Post. The article details issues surrounding the parentage of bi-racial persons in this country. It is particularly germane to my family, as I am the proud mother of 4 bi-racial (half black and half white) sons. Two of them have come to me on more than one occasion to explain what it was like for them to be growing up, trying to be brown, when others wanted them to pick just one race with which to identify (that one drop rule clearly still applies). Think of Halle Berry, recently named sexiest woman alive, Alicia Keyes, Grammy award winner, phenomenal singer Mariah Carey and the amazingly gifted golfer Tiger Woods and others who are of mixed parentage - prior to Loving vs. Virginia, their parents would not have been able to marry, and even if married, would not have been able to share the same bed to procreate - we sure have come a long way.

It is my dream and hope that with the ushering in of our remarkable new President Elect Obama, that my children and countless others in this country will not have to check one box, or renounce one race, rather that they can embrace their parentage on both sides.

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