We have been hearing false claims about Obama's nationality for a long time now. It was one of those campaign smears that should have just faded away after the election was over. Yet the issue has stuck, and it's worth examining why that might be.
In the United States, we have a history of denying citizenship, and indeed humanity to people of color. Today, there persists a vicious attitude of 'otherization' against anyone without white skin. It is the reason why 'Asian' kids, whose families have lived in the USA for generations, are still asked where they are from, and why if you happen to wear a Pagri you are more likely to be frisked at the airport, even if you show a US passport.
Societies wishing to marginalize its unwanted members have imposed strict documentation policies to aid in their discrimination. Both in the United States, and abroad, the bark of 'show me your papers' embodies supremacist arrogance. Currently, in Arizona and Georgia, we are watching as racism and xenophobia manifest themselves in modern identification law.
Though he is supposedly 'the most powerful man on earth,' he cannot escape the humiliation that comes with being dark skinned in this country. And that hurts. It is painful to know that supposedly 'after how far we have come' our President is still having to appease, and cater to the whims of, taunting white folks. It should grieve us to see how far this has gone.
Think it isn't about race? It might be a different situation if every president submitted his long form certificate on Inauguration Day, or if the nationality of the white candidates wasn't taken for granted. But if the President (or voter, or driver, or airline passenger, or coworker) is white and speaks with the proper accent, it doesn't even occur to us to ask about where she or he was born.
|The other birth certificate|
Take John McCain for example: of the two presidential candidates in 2008, it was John McCain that wasn't born in the USA!! McCain was born in Panama, yet few voters knew this fact, let alone question his eligability for the presidency. The few times is was actually brought up, it was acknowledged and dropped without much fan-fair.
Yet here we are, three years into Obama's term and he still must endure the humiliation of proving his status as second-class citizen. Because 'those people simply just aren't "one of us."' Once again, the colored boy is forced jump through hoops to obtain what is rightfully his, just because an over-privileged white guy demands it be so.
Many of us didn't want him to show the certificate, because he shouldn't have to. And it makes us mad that bigotry would force the President's hand, rather than allow him to rise above and receive the same respect that most white school children enjoy every day.
Which reminds me of another thing: what exactly was Trump implying by questioning Obama's enrollment in Harvard and Columbia? Trump insinuates that that surely Obama couldn't have gotten there out of his own abilities--not someone like that. Rather than acknowledge the extant prejudices that meant Obama needed to be more qualified than the average applicant, Trump suggests that Obama met with his success through some sort of racial hand out (by now you know my thoughts on these kind of affirmative-action critiques). Every POC kid in my privileged-soaked alma mater has to face such suspicions and allegations on a constant basis, and then deal with the alienation and personal insecurities that follow. The President of the United States is apparently no exception. John McCain, mean time, graduated 894th in his college class of 899.
Good thing now that we have a black president that proves that we ended racism once and for all...
I'll share with you this video, in which baratunde expresses a lot of shared sentiments. It starts a little slow, but stick with it to the end. As with a lot of things I repost here, those that don't need to see it, probably already have, and those that should, haven't. So check it out:
What is a post-9/11 American?
Arizona's Ban on 'Ethnic Studies'
Birthers are Racist
Two News Stories
Donald Trump's Rants