Jump to content

Denver Daily News: The Bhagavad — Gita in Black and White

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

<table><tbody><tr><td valign="top" width="50%">First black or multiracial president?


Mixed-race groups wish Obama would champion issue more


Gene Davis, DDN Staff Writer


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


</td><td align="right">






While many people yesterday were celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States, several activists said one part of the population has at times felt left out of the proceedings and Obama’s overall campaign — the multiracial community.

Obama — who was born to a white mother and black father — has said that he thinks of himself as a black man. And while the multiracial activists said it’s Obama’s choice to have whatever identity he wants, some expressed a level of frustration that he seemingly disregarded his diverse heritage and has improperly become labeled the “first black president” instead of the “first multiracial president.”






“There is a certain level of disappointment in the multiracial community that during the campaign and maybe his (inauguration) speech that he didn’t put a little more emphasis on his biracial background,” said Charles Byrd, publisher and editor of Interracial Voice. “Politics is politics and people understand that integrity and ethics kind of go out the window, but I think people expected a little more from him in terms of speaking to that issue of multicultural identity than he did.”

Susan Graham, executive director of Project RACE — a national organization that is striving for a multiracial classification on public forms like the census — said she was disappointed that Obama’s inauguration address mentioned his black father and not his white mother. However, she added that the new president has been good for the multicultural community as a whole and that she understands why Obama self-identifies as a black man.




One drop rule?


“It goes back to that ‘one drop rule’ — you have one drop of black blood and you’re black,” she said. “Barack Obama probably felt the ‘one drop rule’ and he had to drop one (race) or the other.”

In Obama’s 1995 autobiography “Dreams From My Father,” the Harvard graduate described in detail his quest for who he was. After “traveling two worlds” in which he slipped back and forth between hanging out with whites and blacks, Obama wrote that he finally discovered his identity.

“It was in my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela,” he wrote.

However, the multiracial Byrd — who is also the author of “The Bhagavad — Gita in Black and White” — said he isn’t convinced that Obama didn’t have other motives for establishing himself as a black man.

“I think Obama made a calculated decision to identify as black so he would not turn off the black political establishment, whether it was locally in Chicago or nationally,” he said. “I think he felt he needed them in order to get elected.”

Five Denverites interviewed yesterday said they don’t suspect any ulterior motives for Obama identifying himself as black. Everyone interviewed also said that they thought the new president would be helpful for race relations in the United States.

“I think he embodies all nations,” said Linda Walmsley, a white Denver woman who had been at Obama-related events all day yesterday.

“I think (his race) means different things for different people,” added Merrian Brown, a black middle-aged Denverite. “It’s just one of the biggest things to happen right now — it gives people hope for a better day.”




Prove himself


The new president will be able to prove his dedication to the multiracial community in several ways, Byrd and Graham said. Both activists are hoping there will be a “multiracial” category on the 2010 census. Byrd is also hoping that Obama will not appoint any Supreme Court Justices who would rule in favor of any race-based polices — including affirmative action — that use racial categories.

“I know there’s a lot on his plate with the wars and the economy, but he still has a huge potential in terms of redefining racial discourse in this country if he chooses to be so bold,” he said. “The ball is in his court, and we will have to wait and see what he does with it.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Barack Obama has nothing to do with the Gita which is tangential to the report. Byrd was introduced to Krishna Consciousness after being involved in a movement to compel the government to recognize “mixedness” instead of pigeonholing people into predefined racial groupings. The reporter knew of Byrd’s involvement in KC and was simply kind enough to mention the latter’s book in the piece. “The Bhagavad Gita in Black and White” is an attempt to aid mixed race individuals in transcending race-consciousness -- a malady predicated on being immersed in the bodily concept of identity.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...