Barack Obama contributes to the discussion, by taking the reader on a journey through his own search for racial identity. Paragraph 2 -Obamas beginning -upbringing/parents/grandparents -How did this affect him? Why is this relevant to the contribution to the discussion of racial identity? Paragraph 3 -meeting other black kids/and gaining black friends -how that helped him. -what did he learned about his identity? how does this contribute to the discussion of racial identity? Paragraph 4 -meeting another person of mixed race (Joyce). -how he judged her conversation about her racial identity? -why is this relevant to him? -overall contribution to discussion on racial identity. Paragraph 5- conclusion -why is racial identity is such a big deal in America? -how does it affects individuals? -general view of the conversation about racial identity in the US. Essay In the United States individuals of multi-racial backgrounds feel like they are forced to choose only one part of the racial identity to define themselves.
Over the years, many important figures that have lived in the United States have spoken on this issue. One of the most relevant people, who have spoken on this, is W. E. B. Du Bois. He developed a theory called ‘Double Consciousness. ’ This theory states that as a black person you have a dual identity; one identity that is American and the other identity that is black. This theory relates perfectly the theme of racial identity in Barack Obama’s book, Dreams from my Father. In this book, Obama discusses racial identity as a means to find yourself in the United States.
He does this by allowing the reader to follow his journey through life, and discussing the experiences that caused him to question his identity because of the “hang ups” that the United States has about race. In part one of Barack Obama’s book, he tells the story of his fight for finding his racial identity. He gives the reader background on his family, his habitat, and his upbringing. He tells the reader that his mother was a “white woman from Kansas” and his father was a “black man from Kenya. This background to his life is extremely important because it sets you up to identify his immediate racial struggle that he has to go through. Obama then goes on to talk about how he was raised by his white mother’s parents. Frequently, Obama talks about growing in this environment, and how difficult it was for him to find himself, because who he was and what his home was were contradicting one another. He felt confused because he was “trying to raise” himself “as a black man in America, and beyond the given appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant. He also found this difficult because, of the United States view of racial identity. He couldn’t just be one thing. He felt that he had to “reconcile the world. ” If he could have been both he would not have had any problems, but because he felt forced to choose one by the society he lived in he became confused and distraught. Obama soon decided to figure it out, and began to find other blacks in Hawaii to befriend. Although befriending other blacks in Hawaii was difficult, the blacks that he did find seemed to fall in his lap. The best example of this is his friend Ray.
Ray and Obama went to the same high school, and automatically became friends due to the fact that they both were black. This was significant because Ray was one of the first black people that Obama knew and he was the first black person to introduce him to his black identity. Ray allowed Obama to see the truth. After meeting Ray, Obama thought about the times he was called a “coon”, or when he was told not to touch things because his “color would rub off on it. ” These instances made him realize that society looks at his as just “another black boy,” not the half white boy, or even the boy being raised by white grandparents.
This is what made Obama decide to find his racial identity and explore is black ethnicity. Obama would “read books by great black authors” to try and find pieces to his missing puzzle. In meeting Ray, a whole other world full of new ideas, thoughts, and exploration seemed to open up. This step in his journey, was the most relevant to contributing to the United States conversation on race because he started to see that our society has major race problems, and that him being multi-racial doesn’t “reconcile” the problems, it just makes things harder for the people who are mixed.
The most important thing that Obama learns in his self-identification process is that all people identify themselves differently. When Obama went to college, he meets a girl named Joyce that completely shook up his world. Joyce to, was of mixed race and she unlike most mixed race people didn’t just assume herself to be black. In fact she considered herself everything but. She declares, “I’m mot black, I am multiracial. ” When she exclaims this, Obama is taken back.
He was stunned that she was so strong in her identity but then he began to judge her racial declaration because she continued on to say, “Why should I have to choose between them? They’re willing to treat me like a person. ” Once this was stated Obama thought about how as mixed people they “become so grateful to lose ourselves in the crowd, America’s happy, faceless marketplace. ” He pronounces this because in the United States assimilation into the dominant white culture is what many ethnicities strive for.
This adds to the conversation about racial identity in the United States because many blacks and multi-racial people try to fit in with the white dominant culture to subdue the fact that they are black or have black blood in them. They feel that by doing this they’re accepted by the masses. NY,NY, 2004. hang ups about race, but our society also carries upsetting stereotypes about race that causes peoples of mixed race to feel that either they must be one or the other. This is truly upsetting, because no one should feel as if they are not an American or a part of something, because they choose not to categorize themselves as only one thing.
That is the biggest lesson that Obama’s book teaches, that you can fit into multiple boxes. And as Americans, people who live in the land of the “melting pot” we should be able to indulge ourselves in as many racial groups as we want, especially when we are mixed race. The concept of ‘Double Consciousness’ is brilliant. But if our country is to grow then it should have no place in the conversation about racial identity.
WORK CITED Obama Barack. Dreams from my Father 1995. Three Rivers Press: NY,NY, 2004.