Aaron McGruder: I Never Said Barack Obama Was Not Black

aaronMcGruderI was once an Aaron McGruder Stan. Alright, alright, I’m still an Aaron McGruder Stan. So, I was taken by the fact that Bossip reported that Aaron said in a recent conference that President Barack Obama is not Black. There’s something wrong with this statement, especially when this brother studied in college and offers biting (with a hint of truth) commentary via his writings on The Boondocks. I thought it was a game of telephone (You know, stuff repeated between people until it gets distorted). I waited for a hot minute, knowing that eventually, the truth will reveal itself. My patience was rewarded when Necole Bitchie managed to get the record straight.

In a letter to Editor & Publisher, he said that the statement is “categorically false.”

Here’s what he was trying to express:

"I have seen an endless stream of Black pundits on TV pontificating about the significance of President Obama’s election – many of them making reference to the 3/5th’s clause in the constitution regarding slaves. The point I was making is that this is not an accurate comparison.

"Barack is the son of an immigrant, not the descendant of slaves. It’s like comparing a half-Japanese man to the oppressed Chinese who built the American railroads. Yes, they are both Asian, but it is not an honest or accurate comparison. We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today – we do not all share a common history. A history that in part makes us who we are – and in some cases (as with the psychological damage that still lingers from slavery) holds us back. These are not, I believe, insignificant distinctions.

In other words, in this example used, First Lady Michelle Obama is more of a Black American than Barack Obama, who’s heritage is more African-American. While he is a son of an immigrant, it doesn’t make him less black. Aaron’s just saying that he didn’t have the same history growing up as Michelle does. I’m “West Indian-American”, which means my outlook and experiences will be different from others. I grew up in both USA and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. So, I understand slightly where McGruder is coming from. My father nor mother (both foreigners when they met) taught my siblings and I values that are different from American Black families. While I still grow up knowing the struggles American Black people go through, I don’t and probably will never fully understand it.

Other than that, Aaron did said he was “cautiously pessimistic” about President Obama, but it’s typical Aaron McGruder material from there on. He’s just keeping his guard up, as usual.

And this is a living example of why I’m slow to “break news”. Sometimes, waiting is good. 😉

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  • http://iluvblackwomen.blogspot.com iluvblackwomen

    I totally agree with McGruder! He is correct there is a big difference between a descendant of a slave and being a child of an immigrant.

  • http://www.twitter.com/geekychic GeekyChic

    Indeed. I grew up in NYC in a very West Indian part of Queens, and there is a different sense of heritage I notice w/ my Jamaican, Hatian, Guyanese, etc. friends. Of course we're all black — but we didn't all come from the same exact kind of struggle and that plays out in everything from who we date, to what we eat, to our family structures, to our work ethic. Glad you cleared that up, though. I'd heard snippets of the Aaron McGruder thing, and my appreciation of him had been knocked down a notch.