Remember my August 7 column where I boldly predicted that Barack Obama would be the first BlAsian president of the United States? (BlAsian in the combined biological-family-cultural sense: His father is Kenyan and his stepfather, who helped raise him, is Indonesian. And Barack was born in Hawai‘i and lived there as well as in Indonesia during his formative years.)
As you know by now, my prediction has come to pass. After his Jan. 20 inauguration, Barack Obama will become the first BlAsian president of the United States — not just the first black president or the first mixed-race president, but the first BlAsian president as well. The chant “Yes, we can!” should now be updated to “Yes, we did!”
We in the interracial relationship community certainly are more than just proud that the son of an interracial couple has won the election to the highest office in one of the richest and most politically influential countries on the planet. We are also mindful of how President-elect Obama’s success in attaining America’s highest office breaks the stereotype that the child of an interracial union will grow up psychologically troubled from racial identity problems, lacking the confidence and self-esteem necessary to succeed because of the challenges of dealing with the stares, taunts and other mistreatment that often befall people of biracial backgrounds.
To have witnessed Obama’s zen-like and forward dealings with the many personal and often racial attacks about his lack of experience, darker skin, prior associations with other persons considered evil and other humbling criticisms during the primary and the general election campaigns probably struck a responsive chord with any person who has been in an interracial relationship or who is biracial by birth. Like any mentally sound and erudite leader, Obama proved time and time again that having a
bi-racial and multicultural background is a strength — not a weakness — in a world where everyone is different.
On Election Night, after the networks confirmed that Obama had won enough electoral votes, American viewers who did not know about Obama’s Asian side probably wondered about the images shown of people in Asian countries celebrating as if one of their own had been elected. Those who did — especially those who read chapter eight of Obama’s international best seller The Audacity of Hope — found further reinforcement of his Asian side.
Could having a biracial president, whose diversity includes an Asian cultural and family background, further black-Asian relations in this country and internationally, including BlAsian relationships? Only time will tell. But for now, that prospect looks hopeful.
Sam Cacas, author of BlAsian Exchanges, a novel blogs at blasianexchangesanvoel.blogspot.com and beyondborders.asianweek.com