Props to Nichelle for digging this up. I really, really hate this debate. It makes my skin crawl. But here is Obama talking about identity:
He decided he belonged to the "community of humanity." I asked him whether that smacked of Tiger Woods' description of his biracial identity, which some blacks saw as a rejection of the black community.
"My view has always been that I'm African-American," he said. "African Americans by definition, we're a hybrid people. One of things I loved about my mother was not only did she not feel rejected by me defining myself as an African-American, but she recognized that I was a black man in the United States and my experiences were going to be different than hers."
At the same time, Obama says, when he takes his daughters to Hawaii to visit his grandmother--his mother is deceased--they visit a little old white lady from Kansas.
They also spend time with his pregnant half-sister, who's part Indonesian and married to a Chinese Canadian.
"My daughters will grow up with a cousin who looks entirely Asian but who carries my blood in him. It's pretty hard not to claim that larger community."
Again, I don't agree with the Tiger Woods thing--though, at one point, I really did. We're all maturing here. A big part of that is to privilege actual people, instead of the essentialists on both sides, in the debate over their identity.