It's only a few days until the inauguration. That means there's a closing window of time left to say anything about race; starting Tuesday we enter post-racial America (Tracy Morgan said so during the 30 Rock acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last week), and the topic will be passé.
There's a worthwhile reference to these definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau, which states the "categories are sociopolitical constructs and should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature."
Thus, conceivably we are are about to enter "post-sociopolitical construct America." But that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
Credit where it's due (and dialing the tone down to somewhere less tongue-in-cheek):
I found that Census info from this post on the Center for Media and Democracy site which questioned whether the election of Barack Obama really indicates we've gone past race (sociopolitical constructs) when he is identified as "the first African-American president," with the "one-drop rule" (any amount of black ancestry at all makes one black) being applied even though his parents would have checked different boxes on a Census questionnaire.
That's something that had been on my mind for a while. Back in the period just after the election in November someone I know (who was a strong Obama supporter) posed the sincere question about why he was generally identified as "black" or "African-American" when (by societal standards) he had one parent who met that criterion and one parent who did not. Why was his skin color so important and not, for example, his ethics?
While I thought the question a valid one, I made no effort to try to address the question directly. First, the massive scope of it encompasses the history of our nation, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and genetics in ways where I could not even feign a shred of expertise to speak authoritatively. Second, and more important, I don't believe there is an answer; there are as many answers as there are people.
What I responded (which I offer more because I feel I've obligated myself to reveal it than I have a pressing need for you to know it) was more or less this:
You don't have to understand why people call Obama the first African-American president; you should understand that it is important for them that they do so, and you should respect that. At the end of the day, no one is hurt by someone else calling him black. Those who call him black must respect that there are others who may call him bi-racial because it is important for them to acknowledge his mixed heritage.
There's only one term that everyone will need to agree on:
But that was just my thought on the matter, offered as representing no one other than myself (and offered with the hope of it being respected whether it is agreed with or not).
(Of course, there are those who will employ an abjectly derogatory term other than black or bi-racial; for them there's no hope .)