Before a gathering of students, members of the Black Student Alliance at Yale and Students of Mixed Heritage and Culture examined the implications of the biracial character of its 44th president, Barack Obama.
The 15 students present for the discussion began by asking whether Obama adopted a black identity during the campaign, although even that label was later broken down and analyzed. Several students said it was wrong to generalize all African Americans under a common “black” umbrella.
Discussion then turned to whether Obama would have won had he not been biracial.
“A light skinned black man is definitely more acceptable than a dark skinned black man,” Albert McWilliams ’12 said.
Others, such as Frederick Angell ’12 , were not so sure.
“It wouldn’t have mattered if he were blacker,” Angell said. “His campaign took race out of it.”
Students also questioned the meaning of Obama’s victory for the black community.
Timeica Bethel ’11 met Obama in high school in 2003 and said she remembered Obama saying he believed the country could change.
“Sitting with a group of 20 school students, talking to them in the cafeteria and being able to relate to them — that makes him special,” Bethel said.
Other students said change meant different things for different people – better health care, economic stability and a positive impact on the African American community.
The discussion was held at the Afro-American Cultural Center and organized by BSAY and SMHC as part of events surrounding Black History Month.