The Identity Card

Will Obama's mixed race make it harder for him to appeal to both white and black voters?

Polaris (2)

Father of Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya (left) and Ann Dunham with her two-year-old son Barack Obama.

The first thing I ever heard about Barack Obama was that he had a white mother and a black father. I heard this over and over again, never in a snide or gossipy way, always matter-of-factly. Apparently this was the way we Americans had to introduce Obama to each other. For some reason, knowledge of his racial pedigree had to precede even the mention of his politics--as if the pedigree inevitably explained the politics.

Of course, I am rather sensitive to all this because I, too, was born to a white mother and a black father, though I did not fully...

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