African American-ness and Barack Obama: Self versus Other on the court of political awakening


“I self-identify as African American. That’s how I’m treated and that’s how I’m viewed, and I’m proud of it.”

These words were spoken by Barack Obama. These two sentences contain within them a sublime discourse regarding Self versus Other, Perception versus Reality, Hope versus Despair. The human condition, being experienced – at its most fundamental level – with a viscerality that ties us together One to the Other as a holistic human family, bonds each of us in a Web of Causality that wreaks existential havoc upon belief systems based upon Seperation, rather than Unity. Barack Obama’s propensity to transcend perceived weaknesses achieves exit velocity with the above statement, revealing an in-depth understanding of the world as it is, and a hopeful forshadowing of the world as it should be.

Each things is connected to the next, each existence entangled at the quantum level, ensconced within a matrix-like and sub-conscious Sea of Potentiality that rises through levels of consciousness in the forms of Archetypes and Symbols that span the gamut of human experience and interpretation, providing us with a wealth of experiential examples that, if accessed, could shed light upon current and future conditions. Obama’s statement regarding his status as an African-American awakens deeper meanings that originated in the soils of the Eurasian and African continents and is being played out here, in the rich and prosperous soil of the Americas.  

“I self-identify as African American.”

According to Geographers, Anthropologists and Historians, The Americas were the last lands to be inhabited by members of the Human Family. The Aborignal peoples who descended upon this continent came by way of the Bering Strait land bridge, equatorial currents and hard, lengthy treks from points North, East and West, culminating in European Westward Expansion and the eras of Exploration, Imperialism, Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism and, finally, Globalism. To self-identify one’s Self as African American is merely to assign a designation to the directional flow of genetic bequeathment. To state that, at some point in the past, some of one’s Ancestors arrived in the Americas from Africa.

It has been revealed recently that Obama also has Cherokee ancestry, and that his European ancestry also includes Scottish and Irish strains as well as his East African-Kenyan ancestry, which makes Barack Obama officially tri-racial, a status shared by a significant proportion of the overall AfricanAmerican population of not only the United States, but the Carribbean and Rimland regions of Central and South America, as well. By self-identifying as African-American, Obama is not only claiming a racial affiliation with individuals enslaved in Africa and brought to the Americas for labor, he is also claiming a cultural affiliation with the broad swath of syncretic social systems that have coalesced all across this continent, reflecting a dynamic and ongoing process of acculturation, as African, European and American cultural memes merge and meld inextricibly in the Crucible of Difference and Graduated Accretion that we alternately call a Melting Pot or Tossed Salad, depending upon our perceived position or status within the aforementioned System of Social Learning.

Barack Obama plays Basketball, listens to Hip Hop and is married to a Strong Black Woman. He had a fiery, black Preacher and learned the game of politics in the black neighborhoods of the South Side of Chicago. In some ways, he fits into a preconceived stereotype of black manhood that has been formed over centuries of genetic manipulation and conscious fear-mongering. But in other ways, he transcends the sterotype. He grew up in Hawaii and points East, attending Muslim schools and Elite Academies during his formative years. His immediate family includes members whose skin colors are of all possible hues and shades. He attended the best Universities in the country. He made choices based upon Service to Others, rather than Service to Self.

Barack Obama fulfills yet simultaneously transcends so much of the potential that is America as-lived and America as-dreamed. His self-identification as African American is an acknowledgement of the promise and the punishment, the hope and the despair, the beauty and ugliness of a Nation founded in the clouds and yet mired in the mud of socioeconomic inequity. He lifts us, while also reminding us that there are heights that ascend far past the level of cloud formation, extending out into the starry sky of inconceivable promise, beyond even our most fervent ability to dream and hope.

“That’s how I’m treated and that’s how I’m viewed, and I’m proud of it.”

All humans are equal, be they male or female, black, white yellow or brown, tall or short, over weight or under. All souls, spirits are One, be they human or animal, plant or rock, the animating force which Quantum Physics states imbues even cellular lifeforms with consciousness animates all of creation, binds us all within the field of the zero-point energy continuum. Nothing is better than anything else, only different. No one is above or beyond anyone else, only representing different aspects of one, greater Entity, one, greater Consciousness, one, greater Potentiality.

And yet, the dichtomous, segregative function of perception foments illusions of difference and we exascerbate the physical differences with cultural differences that span an infinite range of possible exclusionary points of offense. The peculiar history of Western European Society and its relationship to Indigenous Cultures the world across contains, indisputably, a clear and incontestable stain of xenophobic behavior that continues to result in the inhumane and violent treatment of darker-skinned people all across the world during the expansionist phases of Monarchial and Mercantile European Nations leading up to and including the present day.

Up until very recently, there were no benefits to being identified as an African American – or Black – male. In fact, it has, traditionally, been quite the opposite. From the creation of an entire Federal Prison System designed to cage black men recently freed from slavery, to the experimentation upon groups of black men to determine the side-effects of syphillis, black men have been used and abused, their life spans still the shortest amongst the soaring numbers representative of the ethnically diverse, American population. Given the comedically significant choice of being rich and black or poor and white, many might still choose whiteness over any semblance of perceived blackness, i.e., irrevocable social pariah status.

Given the choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, most people might just choose the Deep Blue Sea. It is the Unknow or X Factor in this choice that makes it so attractive, because, who knows? One might get swallowed up by a whale like Jonah in the bible, or rescued by a submarine as one founders, surrounded by hungry sharks and dark despair beneath the pale and unforgiving light of a bloated and distant moon.

Choosing to be African American and choosing to be proud of it automatically infers the existence of a choice. A choice to either be African American, or to be something other-than African American. For Barack Obama, a multiracial designation might have been a practical alternative. Many children of ethnically-diverse parentage choose this option, joining a burdgeoning cadre of multi-racial Others who choose neither black nor white, asian-indigenous nor black, white nor asian-indigenous. Who make the third, intermediary choice, forsaking either extreme. Barack Obama’s decision to plant himself firmly on one side of the equation is a testament to his life-long attempt to work through a social and political forumlation of potentiality and preference, of accepting the negative and the positive both and moving beyond either extreme, in search of higher ground.

It is, in the end, a question of Self as opposed to the Other. The tendency of people to identify those different than them based upon surface, physical or cultural differences. The sheer preponderance of  group perceptions wars constantly with self-perception, and most come to an uneasy truce between who they believe themselves to be, combined within the parameters of who society determines them to be which can either increase or limit their possibilities within Society.  In-groups versus Out-groups, Majority versus Minority, Self versus Other. This war wages within every human and plays out on the stage of our own personal spheres of interaction and intention, resulting in the competing threads of cultural metanarratives and personal transformation.

Choosing the attempt to transcend these designations, therefore, is a weighty task, and certainly not for the faint of heart. It can occur by rejecting them outright or embracing them. Barack Obama’s singular Life Path has prepared him to travel a path of inclusion and acceptance, based upon his own personal experiences within some of the most diverse physical and cultural terrains existent upon the face of the Earth. By proudly proclaiming his self-identified status as a member of one of the most contradictory ethnic groups in America, Barack Obama has stated his willingness to accept the challenge of cultural transcendence. By proudly embracing the societally-derived stigmata that has been associated with African Americans for centuries, Barack Obama has stated his willingness to accept the terms of engagement as defined by Society. 

He has chosen to take the ball upcourt with full knowledge of the defensive position in the attempt to attain the goal by a steady and unrelenting attack that exploits the weaknesses of the opposition, while supporting the strengths of his own team. The Court of Political Awakening is the stage upon which this drama has been set, and Barack Obama has prepared for a lifetime to accept the challenge, and take the game to the next level. And, by proudly continuing to be fully who he is as an individual, Barack Obama has attained Avataric status, exemplifying the innately human drive to “change one’s stars” and ascend to the heights of political and social attainment, no matter the barriers that might stand in his way.

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