Obama’s White Ancestors Owned Slaves… More Is He ‘Black Enough’

-By Warner Todd Huston

Obama’s white ancestors owned slaves. So says the research of William Addams Reitwiesner, “who works at the Library of Congress and practices genealogy in his spare time”, and who is featured in this morning’s edition of the Baltimore Sun.

Many people know that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas.

But an intriguing sliver of his family history has received almost no attention until now: it appears that forebears of his white mother owned slaves, according to genealogical research and Census records.

While reading this, my very first thought found me wondering how well this will sit with the Obama-isn’t-black-enough contingent?

It didn’t take long in the story to get the issue addressed.

The records could add a new dimension to questions by some who have asked whether Obama — who was raised in East Asia and Hawaii and educated at Columbia and Harvard — is attuned to the struggles of American blacks descended from West African slaves.

“..attuned to the struggles”? That’s code for the victim mentality we are used to in this debate that will naturally lead to “He isn’t one of us”!

The Sun writers also included this quote from Ronald Walters, director of the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland:

“The twist is very interesting,it deepens his connection with the experience of slavery, even if it deepens it on a different side of the equation.”

Talk about a spin! Imagine if this was Strom Thurmond, or Trent Lott we were talking about here? Do you think this professor would have been waxing eloquent over these wonderful “connections” or do you think he would have been breaking out the tar and feathers?

To Professor Walters, at least, Obama is “black enough” to have the slave issue spun to the candidate’s favor.

After a discussion on American genealogy the Sun’s piece gets back to the “black enough” question once again.

Author and essayist Debra J. Dickerson wrote in a January salon.com article that she had previously refrained from opining about the senator because “I didn’t have the heart (or the stomach) to point out the obvious: Obama isn’t black.”

”’Black,’ in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves,” Dickerson said.

…”What people are really asking is, ‘Can I trust this guy? Do I have confidence in this guy? Does he understand my situation, and therefore [is he] able to take my issues into the political system?'” Walters said.

No, the real question should be, can we in America ever have a black candidate who breaks the mold of the blacks-as-victims mentality that keeps the Jackson’s and Sharpton’s of this nation living in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed — a lifestyle built on the seething anger of American Blacks, an anger Jackson and Sharpton stir like a witch’s cauldron of muck.

It would appear that no is the answer to that question because this Obama-isn’t-black-enough issue is being raised more and more as the campaign rolls on and sooner or later, Obama is going to have to address this issue head-on.

And it’ll be an interesting debate if ever had.

But it is sure that the MSM will never focus on the more beneficial side of the debate: WHEN can we dispense with the victim mentality in our Black community?
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, townhall.com, men’snewsdaily.com and americandaily.com among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a guest on several radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

7 thoughts on “Obama’s White Ancestors Owned Slaves… More Is He ‘Black Enough’”

  1. My white ancestors owned slaves too. Prescott Bush profited from jewish labor in Nazi camps and the Bush family also owned slaves. So what? Obama didn’t own slaves.

  2. Jenny,

    I agree. I DON’T care if his past family owned slaves. The “news” about his family’s past is of no real interest to me. However, if it leads to a tearing down of the victim mentality for America’s blacks, I am all FOR this discussion!

  3. Years ago I lived in ‘Middle America’ – A very rural area. I became aquainted with a real nice man whose ENTIRE conversation was concerning his past and things he could not change. – Discussing ANYTHING with him – quickly the conversation turned to his questioning his past and things he could not change.

    “What if I hadn’t sold my store?” “What if my wife hadn’t died?” “What if my sons had not moved away?” (even though they had moved back to the area) “What if?” “What if?” “What if?”

    One day he took a cardboard box and a pistol down to a nearby riverbank. Lay down on the sand and placed the box over his head. Took up the pistol and shot himself in the head.

    I took my own lessons from this and hope it is obvious to others.

    P.S. His skin color made no difference.

  4. Many African Americans who researched their family tree would be shocked to discover they have black ancestors who were slave owners. In the United States, free blacks as well as whites owned slaves (one of the South’s biggest slave owners was a freed black man who was notorious for the harsh treatment of his slaves). The percentage of free blacks who owned slaves was small, but so was the percentage of whites who owned slaves.

    African Americans able to trace their lienage back to Africa would discover that virtually all of their African ancestors were involved in the slave trade. The African tribes ran the “supply end” of the slave industry.

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