A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and door-to-door censuses on a decennial basis. The term itself comes from Latin. During the Roman Republic the census was a list that kept track of all adult males fit for military service. In America, the census is mandated by the United States Constitution. The first census after the American Revolution was taken in 1790, under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; there have been 21 federal censuses since that time. The current national census is being held in 2010 and the next census is scheduled for 2020.
As the first US citizen and according to a White House spokesman on friday, President Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked ”African-American” on the 2010 census questionnaire. Obviously, he has decided to keep it plain and simple.
After his introduction to the world more than two years ago, everybody knows that this President who was born in Hawaii, raised there and in Indonesia is from what is commonly known as a mixed race. And because of his background, President Obama had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. Yet, he chose “Black, African American, or Negro.” President Obama could have checked ”White”, checked both ”Black and White”, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing. Yet, the first US African American President simply decided to stay true to himself and to mark his U.S Census form by the way society sees him…by his color. The president’s multiracial heritage has been a subject for oceans of commentary in America and around the world. As a person, he has decided to definitely put an end to that debate…or to spark a new one. Either way, he has decided to wear the mantle of America’s first black president with pride. It’s that simple.
But, wait a minute! Am I missing something here or are they still calling Black people or African Americans ”Negroes” in USA even under their first Black President?
”The first black president!” That’s how the comedian Wanda Sykes exclaimed at a dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association last year. If this piece of news comes to be controversial in the coming days, what most people should keep in mind is that Obama the community activist and then politician always self-identified as African-American. On a visit to Ghana last year, he took his wife and daughters to see Gold Coast Castle, the one-time slave trading depot from which thousands of Africans were sent in shackles to a life of toil in the New World. And as mentioned earlier in this text, observers and critics should not forget that this is a person, this a President who gives priority to common sense and pragmatism. White America should neither feel castrated nor ignored by the President’s decision not to elaborate on his 2010 census form. Let us keep in mind that here is a person who, while running for president, gave the smartest speech on race in America since its foundation. And in another remarkable speech given before that Philadelphia historic address, the same Obama, before a cheering crowd in his home state, announcing that he will seek the 2008 Democratic nomination for president and invoking the memory of fellow Illinoisan and the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, he told thousands packed into the Springfield, Illinois, town square on a chilly day in America’s heartland that “It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people – where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America.” He then added the following: ”And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.” We all remember how the mainstream media were describing the then first-term senator. CNN once said: ” If the 45-year-old Obama were elected, he would become the nation’s first African-American president.” More than two years later and as the first Black US President, the author of the nine minutes excerpt from ”the speech on race” you are about to watch is still Black. It just happens that he has decided to make it official.