January 4, 2010

The transracial era

"I’m intrigued though, because Obama is exactly half white. Yet no one says he’s white. They say he’s black. And so you say he’s black because that’s how you treat him. That’s how you categorize him. But I look forward to the day when we look back at this time and saying that he’s black or saying that he’s anything, we just laugh at it. Because he’s as white as he is black but no one says he’s white. That’s kind of curious. Why don’t you say he’s white? Well, because he’s black, because he looks black. Well, he’s half white. So, are you going to call things what people look like? And what does it mean he looks black? In Africa, he’s got light skin. Compare skin color to Africa. He’s got skin color closer to a white person than the very dark skin of Africans. So the fact that anybody’s having that conversation at all, I look forward to the day that we just look back and laugh at it. We are looking for people with talent we need to lead the nation. Obama was just such a person. The current head of NASA is just such person. So, seeing where America was to where it’s trending to go, I see that as a very positive sign for a nation that could just simply value people’s talent no matter what their point of origin is. And I think they are describing such an era as being transracial."

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson (source)


  1. Thank you for this! I had the same discussion with one of my closest friends last year, who said she was proud the U.S. had finally elected a "black" President. He is our President. Period. PS: I've linked to your blog from http://outoftheboxcoaching.blogspot.com

  2. As a biracial person myself, I appreciate the point that the post makes.

    I think racial labels are on the way out as useful ways of describing people.

  3. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change. As you are well aware, the US is a deeply racist country and this terminology goes back to slavery here and elsewhere. This carryover from the 1800's is here to remind us of the ongoing struggle for power and attempt by the majority White population consciously or unconsciously to maintain power.


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