Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » A reader asks: Should President Obama be described as African-American?


I share this exchange with a reader from this week to allow others to contribute to the conversation:

Dear Editor,

A subject I find interesting is Barack Obama always being referred to as Black or African-American when he is half White or Caucasian. It is ironic that people who call others who disagree with Obama’s policies racist, always say it is so because he is African-American. The fact that he is automatically referred to as African-American (I dislike those hyphenated labels) says something in itself. Very few people in politics or the news refer to him correctly as being of mixed race. I would love to see one person in the news business ask a person why, when referring to Obama as African-American, they do so when he is half Caucasian. Does his birth certificate refer to him as one race or another?

Your recent article on Obama’s speech to the public school children that quoted the teacher as calling others racist and her letter to the Editor being published in the same edition prompted this email to you.

Thank you for your consideration of this topic.

Here's my response:

You raise an interesting question about racial identity in a multiracial era. You might be interested in some of the previous coverage by national media on this topic. Here are a few links:

-- Should Obama Be Identified as Black or Biracial?

-- Racial Identity's Gray Area

-- COLOR TEST; Where Whites Draw the Line

-- Behind the Scenes: Is Barack Obama black or biracial?

The Advocate's policy is to refer to the president's race as he prefers to describe it: black or African-American. Almost all other publications do the same. As with all policies, this is subject to review as the times change.

Please feel free to contact us again regarding any issue. Thank you for writing.


Chris Cobler


311 E. Constitution St.

Victoria, Texas 77901

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