Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Colours of Black and White.

I have been sunning myself on Miami Beach, turning from a shade of chicken polony to a shade of French polony, and pondering the nature of black and white. If the people on the beach with me stood in line from fairest to dark, an almost infinite gradation of human tones would present themselves .There is John McCain albino, and indigo plum, and all the rest are like an extravagant Starbucks menu with its lattes, its espressos ,its mochas, and the dolce de leche of my son-in-law's skin and temperament. On the news channels the droning goes on, however. Obama is black. Is Obama black enough?Is he Muslim? [A question not asked of McCain.] Is he a patriot? [Again, not a question asked of McCain.] Do we really KNOW him? Can we really KNOW him?

What IS it with white people?Why do we give such sinister importance, such weird power to a skin tincture? Obama is of mixed parentage, so why is he regarded as black? Why isn't he as readily classed as white? He is a mongrel, like the rest of us , although critics point out that he vacations in Hawaii and went to Harvard so he must be 'elite'. This charge is particularly amusing coming from rivals who own multiple homes and forget that sons of single parents tend to fashion their own silver spoons.The attribution of colour and its presumed characteristics in the twenty-first century is becoming more obviously irrelevant by the day. To my mind, the really interesting thing about Obama is his mother, a woman of the much-derided 'hippie' generation, a generation that looked at war, and love , and the tribute that citizens are asked to pay ,with unfettered gaze. It wasn't all about sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. A lot of us remember our youth [and even Woodstock!] with affection and self-respect .It will be interesting to see how a gifted child of our times manages to clean up the mess he will inherit.

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