The First Miscegenated President?


A few paragraphs from Randall Kennedy's 2002 article on interracial marriage:

The de-stigmatization in this country of interracial intimacy is profoundly encouraging. Against the tragic backdrop of American history, it is a sign that Frederick Douglass may have been right when he prophesied, even before the abolition of slavery, that eventually "the white and colored people of this country [can] be blended into a common nationality, and enjoy together ... the inestimable blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The great but altogether predictable irony is that just as white opposition to white-black intimacy finally lessened, during the last third of the twentieth century, black opposition became vocal and aggressive. In college classrooms today, when discussions about the ethics of interracial dating and marriage arise, black students are frequently the ones most likely to voice disapproval.

It seems to me that Obama's potential as president is not really that he will be the first black president but that he will be the first president who is both black and white. When you consider the history of race in America - especially when you remember how central the phobia of miscegenation was to all of it - the "audacity of hope" is only the half of it.

(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/Getty.)