Obama jokes about being ‘too black’

June 15, 2008

CHICAGO – Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama went to church on Sunday and joked about being “too black.”
In a Father’s Day speech to several thousand people at the predominantly black Apostolic Church of God, Obama talked about how people need to have high expectations for themselves then shared a few anecdotes about running for president.obamachurch.jpg
“You remember at the beginning, people were wondering — how come he doesn’t have all the support in the African American community. You remember that?” he said to shouts of “oh yeah.”
“That was when I wasn’t black enough. Now I’m too black,” he said to laughter and applause.
Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president if elected in November, is the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Obama speaks at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago on June 15, 2008)


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Why is he being described as a “black” candidate? Is he not multi-racial? Say, if Jindal is the republican VP, would he also be considered “black”?. Granted he is of Indian descent, but his coloring is similar to Obama’s, – wouldn’t that make him a black candidate too? If you look at many of those of African descent, they are not of the same shade or hue of Obama. So how does one categorize people of east Asian descent, south asian descent, middle eastern population, even Turkey, where the population can look as different as black and white, many of us who are quite different in coloring, married to caucasians? After all, we have eurasian, mixed race, all types of coloring. Yet, Obama is constantly is being called the first “black”. Acknowledge that multi-racial people exist, we are all so proud of our heritages, from all over the globe, not just black and white! All the rest of us exist too.

Posted by karuna bertam | Report as abusive

Forget the sermon, let’s use the church to help us get elected.

Posted by Jackson | Report as abusive

Karuna, he is described as a ‘black candidate’ because he considers himself an African American. He gets to decide his own ancestral affiliation, just like we all do.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

I’m tired of B. Obama promoting himself as ‘black’, which he clearly is not. I guess there’s no ‘cache’ in promoting himself as bi-racial, plus he stands to garner the national black vote if he can sell himself as a bona-fide ‘black man’. Trouble is, he stands to alienate a large percentage of the white vote, because his effort to ‘darken’himself seems rascist, and is clearly a blatant, political stunt. Guess he’s selling out to the politically-correct crowd now.

Posted by Kevin, USA | Report as abusive

Bi-Racial? So, if I am made up of 33% Italian, 33% Irish and 33% Native American, what race should I claim? Caucasian? Just because I look white? Should I claim to be black because the Italian side was from the southern coast of Italy, close to Africa? Who honestly cares what race he claims? All he’s doing is making fun of the media because at one point, they labeled him as not black enough and couldn’t win the black vote. Now he’s too black because he did a fist bump. Let the brother be.

Posted by JosephB | Report as abusive

To Scott above, Barack Obama didn’t necessary choose to consider himself African American. The law of Jim Crow did. He was raised by his white mother/grandparents, but wasn’t accepted in the white community. The black community did. To Kevin, Obama never promoted himself as a black candidate. He was in fact working diligently to stay away from that characterization. The media and the nature of american social life basically forced him to do so. This country is over 80 percent white. He’s half-white. Has it ever crossed your mind WHY doesn’t he use his mother’s race to win white votes? I don’t claim to be an expert in this matter, but I would encourage you to speak to anyone who has suffered from racial identity crisis.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive

Obama is black because white society rejects those who are of mixed race. There is also a need to categorize people so that the lines are clear as to what group you belong to. Thus, people are treated accordingly.

Posted by blkwht | Report as abusive

Whatever he says or does, someone is going to have a problem with it. The man lives four Chicago city blocks from the church where he spoke, he lives in a 90% African-American community, his wife is African-American and he personally identifies with the African-American community. I was there on Sunday and we all were thrilled to have him with us to hear his totally honest and REAL assesment of what’s happening in the black community with regard to fatherhood. I am an African-American man. If Sen. Obama and I are walking down the street and someone say’s descrine those guys, 99% of people would say, “two black guys”, not one black guy and one multicultural guy. Stop being so idealistic!

Posted by E. Allen | Report as abusive

The fact that this is even being discussed shows how shallow of a country we live in. Everyone wants to move beyond racism, and then reuters posts an article like this…especially with no other comments about his speech.

I knew this election would be between those who are racist and those who aren’t, instead of the important issues at hand.

What a shame we are even discussing this.
(Wake up country, please!)

Posted by Brandon | Report as abusive

How can we move beyond racism if so many people are supporting a man who attended a racist church for 20 years? Codoning racism of any kind is wrong. Obama sat there for 20 years studying and endorsing hatred for our country and blatant racism. Shameful day indeed. Hatred for whites and Jews is now acceptable I guess – because no one is talking about it!

Posted by Laura | Report as abusive

Chosing which ethnic group you identify with has never been a choice for AA people. America society has decided if you are at any percentage black, you are a Black person period. It has been this way since the slaves first came here from Africa. We were called Octaroons if we were 1/8 black and Malato if we were half black, but always black.

Posted by Arletha P | Report as abusive

Why haven’t all the Cathelics left the Cathelic church since there has been so many priests malesting children? Doesn’t that mean they are condoning pediphilia? Don’t be an idiot. Because I stand in my garage doesn’t make me a car. Stop accusing one person for another persons words or behavior. This no longer gives you an excuse to be racist. If you don’t want to vote for Barack Obama don’t vote for him. It is an individual’s choice. I have voted for white men for president for years and I am sure I didn’t agree with everything they represented, but I never didn’t vote for them because of what someone else said or did.

Posted by Arletha P | Report as abusive

Barack Obama very much resembles his white grandmother Madlyn Dunham when he smiles. She had a beautiful smile. He also resembles his mother and grandfather Dunham. But we should be concerned about his judgment and decisions along with his smile and face. Is this the right time in America to elect to the presidency of the United States such a person as Barack Obama? A resounding YES! Forget about racism. This is the time for seeing a person for his real worth and conduct in this world today. I see Barack Obama as a man of heart, courage and quite a bit of intelligence, especially in diplomacy.

Posted by Carole H. | Report as abusive

Amen….if his mom were Asian and his dad white he would described as multi-racial, so I don’t understand why the emphasis on him being black when he more correctly is multi-racial.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Carole H:
Three cheers to your very sesible comment, which echoes my own feelings about Obama.

Posted by ennar | Report as abusive

I don’t think Obama’s Colour should be a national issue at this present age, what we should be disussing here are his manifestoes.

Posted by Ekene | Report as abusive

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Posted by tdaxp » Blog Archive » The Affirmative Action Candidate | Report as abusive

People of African-American descent, whether they were mixed or not, have always been referred to as “black” and were treated as such (hence slavery and racism), and rejected by other races, so we stuck together. Nothing has changed since then. Racism still exists and mixed people still consider themselves to be black as they are still treated as such. True, we are the only country that defines (or tries to define) a race and heritage with colors – black and white – but look at who invented this separation and made up this definition–white people! You can’t turn around now and try to say that Obama is not black! Technically he is mixed, but since when did anyone start caring whether one was of mixed origin or not..we were all labled as black, and we still are.

Posted by Angel | Report as abusive

Nothing has changed??? That is a very ignorant statement because MUCH has changed since slavery, in fact, a lot of white people fought and died to abolish slavery.
In this day and age, you are free to list all of your ethnic backgrounds whether your family consists of Hispanic, Black, Asian, etc. The one drop rule is antiquated and shouldn’t be used. Barak Obama is half black and half white….period.
I once worked with a gentleman who was half African American, quarter Dutch, quarter Native American. He embraced the African American portion of his lineage which is his right. What was odd was that black people would call him a “light-skinned black guy” and white people would just call him black. Why do black people have to make that distinction?

Posted by Gary | Report as abusive

Before he became president in all of american history
“If you had one drop of ‘black’ blood in you, you are black.
Now that we have a BLACK President he has to be a mutt, even to him. America, we are a jaded and get dumber by the minute. People we need to get over this and accept the fact that your ancestors and mine has identified this man nothing else but black.

Posted by Kenya | Report as abusive