I'm now reading Barack Obama's first book, Dreams of My Father. So far, it's a beautifully written narrative which in some parts is difficult for me to read because it is a reminder of how cruel the world can be. In the book, Barry reveals himself in a way I don't think many have the courage to do during their lifetime. I imagine that many of the experiences described in the book were hard to live through emotionally and in some instances there is a great deal of shame tied to certain events. While the book spans different continents and some unusual circumstances do take place, I do think that many of the problems "Barry" faced are common to biracial people. Being embarrassed of his parents because they are interracial, confronting friends' racial ignorance, worrying about living out a stereotype, etc. I give him a lot of credit for publishing his book.
For different reasons, Barry holds himself out as black even though his mother was white and his father was black. Generally, whites find him to be too black and blacks regard Barry as not black enough. That leaves him somewhere in the middle which is right where he started life as a biracial person. So far, it seems that his confidence is not shaken. I truly admire the graceful way he has handled the situation and I think he is an excellent role model for others (I admire Derek Jeter in the same way although he has not been faced with the same media attacks as Barry). I can only hope I would have the ability to be as graceful.
Coming to terms with the fact that the world is not racially harmonious is hard for many people but I think this realization can be particularly difficult for biracial people. At different times during our lives, depending on circumstances, it is easy to feel separate or alienated in the face of racial unrest. When I read of race relations in the United States, the anger, hatred, and the ugly incidents that occur on a daily basis, I often feel temporarily defeated and deflated. There seems to be no end in sight.
A friend recently explained that it is important to remember to put ourselves in context. Remembering who I am, how I feel among people who love and care about me, the details of the comforting environment in which I live, this defines my life.
Each person has their own context. In the face of negative external events, it's a good exercise to try and remember all the special things that make you who you are in your very own context.