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Posted by monkey | October 16, 2007 9:15 AM

Charles, this is way late. Every racist journalist has already said this but you.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 16, 2007 9:17 AM

Possible as opposed to impossible, you say?

Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2007 9:19 AM

An interesting point, but with several errors.

First of all, the vast majority of "black" people in America are in fact "mixed", just like Obama (just as more than a few "white" people are mixed as well, even if they don't know it). So Obama's mixedness is no different than most of his supposed racial brethren. What sets Obama apart from most black people is not his mixed-ness, but the fact that he is NOT A SLAVE DESCENDANT. His black comes from a different and far more recent place and time than, say, Clarence Thomas's. Obama does not share the three-hundred-year history of transportation, slavery, war, liberation, oppression, segregation, and civil rights struggle that almost all American blacks do.

You are also completely wrong to say "one drop of black blood is sufficient to make another person black". That's not historically true. It's not about "drops" of blood; it's about family. The only part of the country that had a detailed breakdown of ancestry was Louisiana, where you were considered black in the eyes of the law if you were an "octoroon" (1/8 or more black, or one great-grandparent). Everywhere else in the country, and even in Louisiana in practical usage, you were black if you looked black, white if you could pass. The fraction of black that creates a visiblly black person varies tremendously, and includes factors other than skin color, such as hair and facial features. But "one drop" has never been enough to make one black; race in America has never been a paint can.

Posted by Fnarf | October 16, 2007 9:21 AM

"What's wrong with some color in your family tree?" -- Chuck D

Posted by mason | October 16, 2007 9:24 AM

Black people can also make others black through music, at least to judge from half the Asian kids I went to college with.

Posted by Gitai | October 16, 2007 9:26 AM

"An interesting point, but with several errors."

As with most of Mr Mudede's mini-essays, it's a purely provocative idea shored up with pretentious nonsense. Still, as I've said, he does have a beautiful way with words and if he ever writes a novel I'd probably steal it to read.

Posted by Donovan | October 16, 2007 9:28 AM

Okay, I'm usually willing to give you a lot of slack on some of your pseudo-philosophical ramblings, but this one is just plain stupid.

My great-great-grandmother, just to cite one example, was a full-blooded member of the Cherokee Nation. When she married a white man in the 1870's, their offspring; a son and two daughters, each of whom was half white, half red, became white. They looked white, grew up in white culture, and were treated as white. No one who met them, and did not already know their lineage, would ever have assumed for a moment they were anything but white. All three eventually married other white people.

I'm sure other people could present equally relevent examples, either historical or personal, to shoot down this "theory" of yours, but suffice to say, it's one of the most pointless, irrelevent things I've ever seen you post.

Posted by COMTE | October 16, 2007 9:29 AM

"Obama is not black....that is the reality. Culturally, however, he is black."

The implication here is that cultural facts aren't *real* facts. Perhaps Charles thinks that the reality of race comes from it's being a biological category? Of course the problem with this is that it's NOT a biological category. (People identified as black form a biologically heterogeneous group.) So it makes me wonder what, if not culture, Charles thinks makes someone REALLY black?

Posted by curious about black facts | October 16, 2007 9:30 AM

I like big butts...does that make me black?

Posted by p | October 16, 2007 9:30 AM

I think you fell asleep during your little tea party with Mendel.

Posted by Greg | October 16, 2007 9:48 AM

So your saying African nations will never build massive armies or bully their neighbors because Africans are not biologically limited?

I call shenanigans. Some African nations have spent disproportionate amounts of the govt. budget on building and maintaining armies. And some African nations have made it a habit to intervene in the affairs of their neighbors.

And it is myopic at best to believe that white people are some how different from everyone else; does anyone believe that other cultures would not engage in constant warfare and build massive military-industrial complexes if they had the resources?? How are non-white people different??

Ugh...back to work.

Posted by Rotten666 | October 16, 2007 9:49 AM

interesting point, but you contradict yourself. You state that one drop of black blood is enough to turn someone black. But yet you say that Obama is not black... is the black blood only turning people culturally black?

and whites can apparently create a new race too since Obama is not black since his mother was white. the black and white blood created a new race. can two black people do that? i don't think so.

and i'm curious which is stronger, black blood or white blood. since white blood can apparently rob some one of their blackness, whereas you don't make that case for black blood. one creates, one destroys... *sigh*


Posted by ddv | October 16, 2007 9:55 AM

There are many countries in this hemisphere that view race completely differently. Most Dominicans don't see themselves as black, even as most of them have African heritage. Does that mean that Spanish blood is somehow "stronger" than Anglo-Saxon blood?

Posted by keshmeshi | October 16, 2007 9:57 AM

Wasn't this basically said by Malcolm X decades ago? i.e. his line about the "power of one drop of black blood".

Posted by tsm | October 16, 2007 10:02 AM

I thought we built huge armies because we had smaller penises than the darker hued peoples of the earth. Now I find out it's because white plus black equals non-white? Damn, it's hard to keep up some times.

Seriously, though:

"One drop of black blood is sufficient to make another person black."

Maybe. Aren't many black folk contesting this w.r.t. Obama? Isn't the definition of black just as fluid as the definition of white? Didn't Spike Lee build an entire career on this principle?

Posted by Big Sven | October 16, 2007 10:09 AM

Charles, I hadn't been keeping score on this one.

There's two kinds of religion-based choral traditions in Jamaica that beg to be compared. The one's more "Black" - Afro-caribbean tradition. The other one is more "White" - Anglo/Euro tradition. Both are sung by black Jamaicans.

Does the Black chorus singing in the White tradition make the Black people more White or the White people (whose tradition it was) more Black?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | October 16, 2007 10:10 AM

I agree with Charles. I felt defensive reading it, but I don't think I can argue.

Posted by Carollani | October 16, 2007 10:12 AM

I'm unclear on terminology -- is Charles a racist or a troll? If he's half troll, does that still make him a troll or is he just culturally a troll?

Posted by Al | October 16, 2007 10:12 AM

Because whiteness can only generate whiteness; or, put another way, only white people can make white people. Black people, on the other hand, have the additional and amazing power of making other races their own race.
Actually, throughout history people of many different races have felt that they could turn other people into their race. Look at white Australians who set out to get rid of aboriginal bloodlines via selective breeding.

Also, what ddv @13 said. Your post doesn't make any sense.

Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2007 10:21 AM

And once again, ladies and gentlemen, Charles shakes his African behind at the crowd...

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | October 16, 2007 10:22 AM

Sven @ 16 said Aren't many black folk contesting this w.r.t. Obama? Isn't the definition of black just as fluid as the definition of white?

Good point. Look at the attitudes that dark-skinned blacks have towards light-skinned blacks and vice-verse. And even that binary distinction is way too simplistic. Look at a country like Brazil where a mixture of white, black and aboriginal doesn't simply equal one identity type, it equals a multitude of varying appearances and millions of ways of identifying oneself. On their census forms and such they are able to provide whatever ethnic description they want, and it runs from "coffee" to "caramel" to "black" to "white" to whatever else you can imagine. Not "black", "white" and "native."

Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2007 10:30 AM

I will agree with the general premise of the first part of your thesis: ie, that most people in this country with even a small percentage of African heritage are considered to be black.

However, the second part of your thesis: ie, that culturally weak whites hide behind warrior might is nonsense. One need only look at recent wars in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, etc, etc, etc, to see that Africans are just as capable of hiding behind military power as whites.

In other words, humans can be pretty fucked up toward each other, regardless of the mix of the skin pigmentation.

Still, a lovely read. Thanks.

Posted by SDA in SEA | October 16, 2007 10:37 AM

Obama is only black to white people -- who are generally clueless about such things anyway. To black people he's a white guy with a built-in tan -- courtesy of a dad who contributed little else to his "cultural" identity. But either way, he'd still be working as a lawyer if he hadn't had the good sense to marry a black woman. Imagine what would be possible if he had a blonde on his arm.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | October 16, 2007 10:38 AM

Charles, the depth of your stupidity is terrifying.

Posted by shocked | October 16, 2007 10:41 AM

I agree with everything you said. In fact Charles, it is your earth-given duty to spread your sperm around this country like Spider-Man spreads his web. You and only you have been given the divine key to create new races, to mix & match, to ratchet up the pigments... Blackness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Posted by Fyodor Zulinski | October 16, 2007 10:49 AM

Jesus Fucking Christ. It's neither here nor there but I'm half black & half white but I look white.

I have blonde hair etc. My nephew in a similar situation has blue eyes. Please, everyone feel free to speculate on the racial purity of my father (& his grandfather).

Big fucking deal. There are more things in heaven and earth, Charles, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Posted by daniel | October 16, 2007 10:51 AM

Three things to think of:

1. He's as much half-black as most African-Americans are.

2. Only reproduce with itself? It's a cosmetic pigment alteration designed in the human genome that adapts to living in areas where sunshine is not present year round - just ask Australian Aborigines that. Within 20 generations we all start adapting to our environments.

3. Culturally he is American. We're all mutts, we just seem to have a hard time admitting it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 10:51 AM

oh, and many Africans are slave descendents, they just weren't transhipped across the Atlantic.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 10:52 AM

Hey now. Charles is absolutely right - he's talking more about what "society" (if you'll excuse me for resorting to an overused vagary) tends to think. As a Halfrican I can attest to the fact that in the U.S., there are no shades of grey. This was hard for me as I grew up overseas as an American and only when I came here did I realise I might be considered black, which came as a bit of a shock, as that implied talking, dressing and generally acting in a way I knew nothing about. Admit it: seeing a black person speaking in an English accent throws you off just a bit, no?

In this country, half black mean black. That's why you have Halle Berry (raised by her white mother) tearfully accepting her Oscar on behalf of black women, Alecia Keys (ditto) presented as a soul singer from the street, Tiger Woods the black golf champion, and the list goes on and on.

Posted by KatieDewi | October 16, 2007 10:54 AM

Fnarf @4 and others have already made my point. I'll just point out the irony of Charles trying to impose a--yes--black & white distinction on a not-so-simplistic issue.

Posted by lostboy | October 16, 2007 10:59 AM

“the disaster of the unlimited”

Cool. I've been trying to come up with a way to describe the taxing policies evidenced by the RTID/ST2 ballot measure.

Slog - its damn helpful!

Posted by Warrior Might | October 16, 2007 11:02 AM

this whole subject matter was covered ad nauseum on daytime talk shows in the 80s. before they started throwing chairs and DNA testing baby daddies, they talked about racial identity. there are 2 sides to it: how we see ourselves, and how others see us. sometimes people who are black on the inside don't look black on the outside, and vice versa. pull a random episode of "donohue" from the archives, and i guarantee you this is the take-home message.

anyway, the idea that our military excesses are due to white people feeling racially inferior because "white don't make black" is laughable at best. but of course you know this already or you wouldn't have written this post!

Posted by brandon | October 16, 2007 11:06 AM

@30...You are so right.

I'm a dark skinned black person with a very proper English accent. It seems to intrigue American's (of all colours) much more than any other countries people (on every continent expect Antarctica.)

Posted by YO | October 16, 2007 11:08 AM

Kesmeshi@ 14

One can make the argument that in the Dominican republic is just plain old racism, at the very least that was my experience in Santo Domingo when viewing how hateful most Dominicans are towards darker skin countrymen, calling them Haitians as a form of racist insult, they also have a deep hatred of Haitians. Part of this goes back to Trujillo ( who ordered the massacres of thousands of Haitians) when he instituted his so called Hispanization of the island, promoting the Spanish heritage and calling the black heritage backwards, it is not so much that Spanish blood is stronger as you argue, but the Spanish imposed this through genocide and plain murder, so in a way this form of self hatred was a way of surviving, because the darker you were the more likely you were going to wind up dead or a slave whether you were indian or black.

Discrimination towards darker skin people is a fact in Latin America, one left over by the Spaniards. This form of racism you can also find in Brazil which lives in a semi state of apartheid and to a lesser extent in Cuba where even though the revolution denies racism exists there, you will find all positions of power in the state and in the army held by non black Cubans.

You know, Slog can become so predictable when Chuck posts thoughtful mini essays. You always have the same 3 or 4 crying "reverse discrimination" or Charles is racist, or racist this or that, it is almost as if they’re waiting for their chance to jump out and make a weak accusation of racism every time somebody talks honestly about race.

Posted by SeMe | October 16, 2007 11:11 AM

@ 3, that made my eyes roll too.
Charles you take so long to say so opposed to a short time to say so much.

Posted by Cindy | October 16, 2007 11:24 AM

amusingly, at our recent 50th anniversary of medical genetics, we were discussing those people who misidentify their own genetic racial backgrounds. Quite a few - one guy was Asian with Caucasian and thought he was black.

genes respond and self-select over time to the geographical and environmental constraints. geographic regions that are isolated are a far better predictor , as we humans all adapt. It's what we do.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 11:25 AM

I keep getting flashbacks of Dave Chapelle's race olympics skit when I read this post and the comments.

Posted by konichiwa bitches | October 16, 2007 12:05 PM


I'm aware of that. My point is how other Western Hemisphere countries view race differently. Dominicans don't want to think of themselves as black, because blackness has negative connotations for them and because most of them aren't really black. Most are some combination of white and black. Racial identity in most of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean is much different. Here, if you look black, you are black. In those countries, it's a hell of a lot more complicated.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 16, 2007 12:46 PM

Charles, what are your thoughts on the Josephine Baker "banana" dance?

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | October 16, 2007 1:12 PM

I think the questions of Obama's blackness is coming more from whites. I think many black people accept that Obama is black and many think of him as just an average black man-that's the problem. We're asking what is the f*cking big deal? We know many black men who are intelligent, charismatic, and etc. They 're all around us our fathers, brothers, lovers, and etc. I think we as black people are dumbfounded as to why the majority of his support is white people? In general, we are critical bunch and more educated than we're given credit for. Aside from writing best sellings books and delivering a famous speech, what is he offering?

I was watching a program in which I was watching Ron Paul speak for the first time, and I was surprised because I understood his message-loud and clear. Except I just didn't agree. I will say that he is quite witty. Then the programs goes off and Obama is in New Hampshire with a popular rock song playing as he comes to the podium. He then speaks about global warming at length....needless to say, I was confused and switched the channel.

Posted by sickofhearingaboutit | October 16, 2007 1:16 PM

My point is Obama seems confused.

Posted by sickofhearingaboutit | October 16, 2007 1:19 PM

The reason Americans tend to percieve mixed race people as black is complex, but it undoubtedly has a lot to do with our history. In times of slavery, sexual contact between female african slaves and their white owners was commonplace, though perhaps not openly acknowledged. Nonetheless, when these sexual encounters produced children, as they inevitably did, it put the white slave owners who had fathered these children in the position of either rearing them as their own or treating them as just another slave. Social norms at the time regarding interracial sexual relationships dictated that they choose the latter option, which reinforced the identity of mixed race people as simply black, branding all those with visibly African features in this manner as black. This idea regarding blackness has persists in our culture today, in no small part because literally all African Americans who are decended from slaves are mixed race. Genetic analysis of slavery decended African Americans reveals that between 20 and 30 percent of their genes are of European origin.

Posted by Buddy | October 16, 2007 1:27 PM

The awesome thing is that cultural dynamics are shifting so rapidly and we are beginning to blend, that this is a pattern changing meaning as it moves - there is no 'truth', there are merely observations which change as the pattern mutates.

My Missouri great-great grandfather was (very probably, no proof) black. After a hundred years of my family running from blackness, I'm trying to flip and embrace this thing that might not even be real (not in a wigger kind of way, I'm too old to be a hiphop head) inwardly, dare I say it, philosophically. To my grandchildren in turn, all of this will be meaningless as an editorial from the 1820s about the Tories and the Whigs.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | October 16, 2007 1:30 PM

Genetics and philosphy don't mix. Remeber a little band of folks called the Nazis?

DNA can tell you where a bloodline may have originated but it cannot tell you what color a person is. This whole argument is much like that about Jewish bloodlines..

In optics, white light contains all the colors of the spectrum and black is the inability to reflect, or the absence of, light. Does that have anything to do with race? Genetically yes, melatonin in the skin mediates a body's reaction to sunlight. Philosohically, light probably doesn't care what we think of it.

Posted by derek | October 16, 2007 1:46 PM

I detect more than a drop of troll, here.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | October 16, 2007 2:13 PM

the core of this philosophy is an artifact of genetics: for the most part, dark genes trump light genes. hence people of mixed race [usually] outwardly appear the darker race.

if we take this "brute force as compensation for weak genes" philosophy to its logical conclusion, the swedes - with their inherently weak blond hair / blue-eyed lineage - would have dominated the planet decades ago.

if this is "talking honestly" about race, we're all fucked.

Posted by brandon | October 16, 2007 2:14 PM

Dark genes do not trump light genes. Rather, it is an American perception of the definition of blackness that causes such an identification (note my previous post for context). In another cultural context, this will not necessarily be the case. If a mixed race person such as Obama is put into an overwhelmingly black country, take Haiti for instance, it would be his whiteness that would stand out.

Posted by Buddy | October 16, 2007 2:25 PM

48: speaking in terms of genetics - yes, they do. brown eyes trump blue. black hair trumps blond. in purely biological terms, this is almost universally the case.

one exception: yellow trumps black and chocolate in the labrador retreiver.

Posted by brandon | October 16, 2007 2:39 PM

There's a genetic explanation? Are you trying to tell us that darkness of skin is not directly related to how wicked and distant from God one is?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | October 16, 2007 2:39 PM

49: Unfortunately, genetics is a bit more complex than you give it credit. To say that it "Dark" genes trump "light" genes almost universally is simply untrue.

That's no dye job...

Our perceptions about race, on the other had, often trump the reality...

Posted by Buddy | October 16, 2007 3:01 PM

charles, i do not have the patience today for your words that i generally love so much. my only comment is this: that shot of ali, above obama's head, is one of my all-time favorite photos.

Posted by kerri harrop | October 16, 2007 3:17 PM

@45 - actually, when we were talking about medical genetics and what had happened both over the last 50 years and the next 50 years (future), we did talk about the start in eugenics, and how many misperceptions we had.

Kind of interesting.

FYI, I grew up with neighbors and freinds who were black, and served in the military with them too, so I find the American perspective on race quite puzzling at times.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 3:32 PM

"You know, when I'm catching a cab in Manhattan -- in the past, I think I've given my credentials." - Barack Obama

Posted by Aexia | October 16, 2007 3:37 PM

Sorry about the typos in @45.

This conversation exemplifies my preference for science over philosophy. Race is a completely perceptual and therefore subjective construct. Real science is neutral on the subject. Race only becomes a factor in genetics in cases of pathologic mutation and deleterious combinations of genes, which occur in all of the so-called races to a greater or lesser degree.

Posted by derek | October 16, 2007 3:39 PM


That's true. I think it's also related to whites being in the majority. The majority sees anything different from them as the "other." Consequently, anyone who doesn't look white isn't white. Many other American countries had slavery as well, and even more miscegenation. One fundamental difference: whites are not the majority in those countries.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 16, 2007 5:09 PM

nothing takes the cake for racism and separatism like this video tape of Venus Velasquez, a candidate for the Seattle City Council who told hispanic immigrants to vote along racial lines.
See it at and then pass it on so others are aware not to vote for this racist.

Posted by okayokay | October 16, 2007 8:37 PM

"Black man, black woman, black baby
White man, white woman, white baby
White man, black woman, black baby
Black man, white woman, black baby"

Public Enemy, "Fear of a Black Planet"

Posted by Mahtli69 | October 16, 2007 9:39 PM

Dear Sir,

I couldn't agree with you more. The issue with whites is that they are afraid to let down their defenses and mix with black folk enough that intermarriage is possible. Of course, that will produce beautiful black babies, and not white ones, which I believe is the basis of the threat. Hopefully, someday we will be a beautiful black and brown society, and racism will be a thing of the past. It is encouraging to see that black/white intermarriage is on the rise. I hope that trend continues.


Posted by Your Google Toolbar can fill this in for you. Select AutoFill | October 17, 2007 11:19 AM

charles, did you drink your way through an american ethnic studies correspondence course before you flunked out of college? memorize the proper spelling of the word "ideological" and learn what it means before you start spouting nonsense. and i thought biological racism was dead.

Posted by lindsay | October 18, 2007 1:25 AM

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