Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are Bob Marley and Barack Obama products of people overcoming racism?

Via Ads of The World
This Brazilian anti-discrimination campaign caught my eye, because Bob Marley has always come up when I argue with people about the social construction of "race". Bob's father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was ethnically English. His mother, Cedella Booker, was Afro-Caribbean. Bob grew up in his mother's culture, however, and was committed to the Afrocentric Rastafarian religion. As far as Bob Marley was concerned, he was "black". But he acknowledged his background this way:
I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't deh pon nobody's side. Me don't deh pon the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me deh pon God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.
In this way, Bob Marley is a good physical symbol of overcoming prejudice. Especially since he had to deal with racism from both of his ancestral communities.

Via Ads of The World
US President Barack Obama's background is well-known. His father was Kenyan, and his mother Anglo-American. He was raised in his mother's culture, and actually faced the preposterous question of whether he was "black enough" to represent African Americans. At the same time, his presidency is viciously vilified by white American racists who can't stand the idea of a black president.

Using a "mixed marriage" as a symbol of overcoming hate is interesting, because the present debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples frequently draws comparisons with the days of anti-miscegenation laws.

Via Twitter
In my great-grandmother's day, even marriages between Catholics and Protestants were considered "mixed". That gives you some idea of how far we've come.

But where I wish we would go is to the post-racial world, where people are identified as humans belonging to diverse cultural groups, rather than being labelled based on the external (and genetically minuscule) climate adaptations that give us the racist categories of "black", "white", etc.

One love.

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