“It Will Become Easier to Bring A Black Man Home if Obama Is Elected.”

I’ve been blogstalking Devis With Babies, a blog by two South Asian women (with babies) that I came to via the very thought-provoking Sepia Mutiny.  DWB has a comic called “Brown Girls” and its latest episode discussed the Bradley effect – both national and personal.

Apparently this comic got a lot of people over at Sepia Mutiny talking.  I felt a little bit like I was listening in on someone else’s conversation, but I couldn’t help it.  There’s a lot of black-brown tension (that’s black-Latino, as well as black-South Asian) going around, and it’s always interesting to me to see how first- and second-generation folks deal with race issues and cultural intermingling.  I live in an area with a very large South Asian population, and I’ve never seen a mixed couple.

With the election rapidly approaching, talk turned to what an Obama presidency might mean for interracial dating.  Deepa at DWB had this to say:

Our buddy Barack’s race is no secret. It’s out there, looming large, for all of us and our personal Bradley-mechanisms to see, internalize, learn from. This can ONLY do good things for our little devis and boy-devis: The President of the United States–dark and “different”–is going to look more like our kids than those of the Smiths and the Jones. Yes it’s superficial but so is discussing politicians’ haircuts, Neiman Marcus shopping sprees, use of spray foundation, love of pretzels. Superficial isn’t always as superficial as we think. Unpack a comic and you might find a debate.

Interracial dating is obviously a touchy subject.  I’ll say for myself that my father would be very, very unhappy if I married someone who isn’t black, while my mother is more practical: “whoever makes you happy” is her motto.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if having a loving black family in the White House will put more pressure on black women to find themselves a Barack?


20 thoughts on ““It Will Become Easier to Bring A Black Man Home if Obama Is Elected.”

  1. kaya October 28, 2008 at 9:18 am Reply

    “I wonder if having a loving black family in the White House will put more pressure on black women to find themselves a Barack?”

    i wonder if it will put more pressure on black men to BE a barack?

  2. rakia October 28, 2008 at 9:55 am Reply

    Kaya already took my comment. That’s precisely what I’m thinking about now.

    And further, will it put more pressure on black families to be The Obamas. Now there will be fewer and fewer excuses for blacks not to do well. No more of that “The man is keeping me down” talk. And affirmative action? It’s toast.

  3. ladyfresshh October 28, 2008 at 10:30 am Reply

    I don’t know rakia. The unprecedented hurdles that Barack has had to jump in his race may have exposed the various subtlies of todays racism and how much farther still society has to go to people may not have previously had this experience or witnessed it.

  4. blackink October 28, 2008 at 11:20 am Reply

    I suppose the answer is yes, some folks might feel more pressure on black families “to be the Obamas.” But that’s only if people completely forget that Barack himself is the product of an interracial relationship.

    And Rakia, are you being serious? Or is that sarcasm that I’m just missing?

  5. shani-o October 28, 2008 at 11:33 am Reply

    Rakia, at the The Wire/David Simon/Michael Nutter lecture that G.D. wrote about, someone in the audience asked if the example of Barack would be a motivator to young black boys in the hood. I think every black person in the audience rolled their eyes. Simon said something like, he’s a good example, but at the same time, the black boys in the hood don’t see his experience in their experience. Barack went to Columbia and Harvard. These kids know as many HS dropouts as graduates, and they don’t see a path to the Ivy League, simply because in the crappy school system plaguing inner cities, there isn’t one.

    I suppose the answer is yes, some folks might feel more pressure on black families “to be the Obamas.”

    Blackink, that’s an interesting take. I was thinking specifically of middle- upper-class black women, who are already under a lot of pressure to find their “BMW” and I wonder if the Obamas will put a damper on “dating outside the race,” which is an option that a lot of us already overlook.

  6. G.D. October 28, 2008 at 11:35 am Reply

    shani: BMW?

  7. shani-o October 28, 2008 at 11:38 am Reply

    G.D. Black Man Working. I hear that’s what your kind is called. At least according to Essence.

  8. rakia October 28, 2008 at 11:49 am Reply

    I’m being very serious, blackink.

    I think whites could wipe their hands and sigh with relief, “Well, glad that’s done. Civil Rights worked. What’s next on the American agenda?”

    I believe some people will see Barack’s win as the end of the fight for racial equality. The problem will be “solved” in their minds.

    Even whites who don’t want Obama to win might feel comforted that at least blacks can stop complaining about not having a fair shot at success. They won’t see Barack as an exceptional case.

    I hope I’m wrong, of course. But just looking at some of the video clips posted in recent weeks has reminded me that there are a lot of people in our country who are, um. Yeah. Let us not forget this:
    Or this:

  9. rakia October 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Shani-O, you make an excellent point. I guess when I said families, I actually was thinking more about middle-class black women. Beyond the fact that black women are heading black families, I need to make a note to myself to examine why I made this automatic conclusion.

    Still, I’d like to think that there are some little black boys for whom Obama will be influential. I remember being very moved by Claire Huxtable as a kid, and that chick ain’t even real. If Obama is in office for eight years (the same number of years Mrs. Huxtable came through my tv), then over time, his very presence could make a big impression on black boys. Maybe even black men. Perhaps I’m being Pollyanna-ish about it, but we’ve never seen anything like this before. Hell, everything is speculation.

    Also, lemme just say that after Michelle Obama spoke at the DNC, almost without exception, my black girlfriends were saying: “That was us up there, girl. That was us!” We saw ourselves in Michelle. I think it’s reasonable to believe we’re not the only demographic who does this.

  10. blackink October 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm Reply

    Rakia, ok, I think maybe that I misunderstood your point. I actually agree that a lot of people, white and black and brown, will be fooled into believing that the election of Barack will cure America of its racial ills. They’ll treat him as the rule, rather than the exception.

    But Shani-o – and David Simon – make a great point: many of our kids don’t see themselves, at all, in Barack or Michelle. All they’ve got in common is a little pigment. In particular, I’m thinking of the kids on “Inside New Orleans High.” Making it to graduation was the Holy Grail for many of them. Whatever comes next is gravy. But it damn sure wasn’t Columbia or Harvard or the Oval Office.

    I’m totally down with adopting Barack and the Huxtables as our role models. It can’t hurt. At all. Some black kids might grow up and have reason to believe that someday they can be president. But I’m being realistic … a lot of folks just can’t and won’t relate to that.

    And “BMW”? That’s a new one. Thanks for putting me on.

  11. universeexpanding October 28, 2008 at 12:57 pm Reply

    Shani – The one I had heard before was IBM: Ideal Black Mate.

  12. ksolo October 28, 2008 at 1:13 pm Reply

    jews for jesus for obama!!?? in a jamaican kufi!!???



  13. Grump October 28, 2008 at 1:20 pm Reply

    I think it goes deeper than just having Michelle in plain view. To extend the example of “having examples”, I think that in order for folks to have an idea of a thriving, and not just surviving, Black family, we need to have examples available for folks to observe. So that learned behavior has a model to work off of. By having Michelle and her family in the White House really doesn’t create the end-al, be-all that would have the positive effect that we desie. if anything, it would be just a real-life version of the Huxtables that would only be superficial in the sense that we have an example of an ideal middle class Black family. But we would not have a clue as to how the dynamics work to keep that family together.

    So with Claire Huxtable, would you have to have a Cliff as well? Would a James Evans Sr work just as well, even if the character had trouble finding it?

  14. Bernadette October 28, 2008 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Exactly Kya. More pressure on black men to BE a Barack. I hadn’t heard BMW either before. Nice. In any event, I get the “narrow role model” argument as to how many of us get to go Ivy and the many other little “not quite black like I’m black” bits that are out there for US to wade through. But the truth is that for most folks (aka, white folks) out there, black is black. Or colored is colored.

    For me personally, I am and am not Michele. I grew up poor, got an Ivy League education. I don’t nor will I ever make more than my husband though and I have no faith in being able to do it all (pretty much head of household, two kids, totally great career and still able to pull a look or two together out of the closet). That said.

    If I were not married to a white guy (2nd time at that) would seeing the Obamas put more pressure on me to find my BMW? I think it would make me jealous on the first (no lie) because I had always wanted him growing up, but the black dudes I was around were not looking for the darker shade of brown. So rather than wait for mine to come, I expanded my horizons. And I’m fine with that of course now. But if i were single and watching this play out, right after being jealous, of course I’d be hopefull (smile). Hopefull that was a BMW out there for me too. He wouldn’t have to be presidential material, but purely loving on black women would be the pretty low bar of expectations I’d need met. I know. Pitiful.

  15. G.D. October 28, 2008 at 3:54 pm Reply

    “…but the black dudes I was around were not looking for the darker shade of brown.”


  16. Bianca October 28, 2008 at 7:05 pm Reply

    “Now that I think about it, I wonder if having a loving black family in the White House will put more pressure on black women to find themselves a Barack?”

    I’m much more concerned about becoming a Michelle.

  17. shenose October 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm Reply

    Shani-O, I really like this piece.

    I’m only a first year college student but by the looks of things I can already tell that there won’t be enough suitable educated black males to go around when it’s my turn to get married. So truthfully, I’m not looking for a BMW specifically anymore. I’m looking for any male. If anything, I feel more pressure to become a Michelle. But then again i don’t because I always knew growing up that she is who I would become because that is who my mother, grandmothers, and aunts are. Michelle and Barack were always around me. I was surrounded by fuctional, loving black couples. It’s just sad to know that so many other black kids weren’t. And they won’t see Barack as themselves. His life is to exotic.

  18. GVG October 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm Reply

    “Now that I think about it, I wonder if having a loving black family in the White House will put more pressure on black women to find themselves a Barack?”

    I sure to God hope so.

  19. GVG October 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm Reply

    “but the black dudes I was around were not looking for the darker shade of brown.”

    Bernadette, maybe you weren’t looking in the right places. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t look for a good “christian” girl at the local strip club amateur night. Seeing as you’re already married with children, I think your path has been chosen, but to any other ladies who feel the same, you may want to venture out of your surroundings to an environments that appreciate and loves you for who you are. BROOKLYN!!!

  20. rakia October 29, 2008 at 6:36 am Reply

    “…but the black dudes I was around were not looking for the darker shade of brown.”

    G.D. — you’re really surprised by this?

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