August 13th, 2007
01:04 PM ET
6 years ago

Cut it out: Obama's wife on Barack being 'black enough'

Watch CNN's Don Lemon report on how Obama addressed the 'black enough' issue last week.

(CNN) - Michelle Obama dismissed any lingering questions over her husband’s racial identity at a “Women for Obama” event in Chicago Sunday, demanding that people “cut that nonsense out because it is not helping our children.”

The comments came two days after Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama addressed in detail whether he was “black enough” for the African American community at the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in Las Vegas.

Michelle Obama told the audience Sunday, “What are we saying to our children if a man like Barack Obama isn’t black enough? Then who is? Who are they supposed to be? So we have to cut that nonsense out because it is not helping our children.”

At the recent National Association of Black Journalists convention, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, was also asked by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux whether she was black enough to sustain the kind of support her husband former Pres. Bill Clinton has long had in the African-American community.

Clinton and Obama lead most national polls for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, and both are aggressively vying for the support of the African-American community, historically a very reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party.

–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. lavelle

    Exactly out of all the candidates who is black enough? Lol its sad as to how CNN i mean Clinton news Network planted the seed for even more division amongst african americans. In what could be the most defining moment in African American history some many African Americans would feel better with someone who is "Black Enough" for them to have in office. Right so we would feel better with Rev.Al at the helm thats why they voted for him. Its nonsense and im glad Michelle is speaking out because from what i can see he looks black enough to me.

    I really think this is a set up to pull votes away from Obama. Mainly because so many African Americans know little about the political process and its history. All they see is the machine which is white and are afraid to take that chance and vote for Obama. Its a sign that says yes a lot has change however so many things remain the same!

    August 13, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. VanReuter NY NY

    "But then Pitts asked that last question: What gives Obama hope that America is ready for a black president?"

    That was the question. It has been spun for THREE DAYS now that he was responding to the,"black enough", question again. He wasn't. He was avoiding the question he was asked.
    Even CNN can't seem to read their own copy correctly.


    August 13, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Ayveel, Dallas, Texas

    Of course he is black enough. What does black enough mean anyways?

    But isn't he mixed. Why isn't he being touted as the first potential mixed president instead of being the first African-American.

    August 13, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Claude, Mesa Arizona

    CNN(Hillary's Network) STOP IT!!! We are sick and tired of this. Start reporting real news and stop biasing the Demo election process.If you keep this up you will have a protest on your hands.

    August 13, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Omar Newera, Durham, NC

    The fact that people are even asking this question shows how deep-seated these racial stereotypes are - not just in the eyes of whites, but in the eyes of blacks too. If one simply thinks about what it is about Obama that makes people think him not "black" enough, this point becomes quite clear. I think Obama did a fine job pointing out this hypocrisy.

    August 13, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Afroz, Northern California

    I agree with her. By claiming that he isn’t black enough isn’t it being implied that an educated, articulate, successful man cant be of color? The claim is ridiculous, and the fact that people keep asking the question is even more baffling.

    August 13, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Mike, Eau Claire, WI

    Way to milk this one for a story

    August 13, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Bernard, Scotch Plains NJ

    Okay, I'm still a little baffled, I'm black, live in a black community and have not once heard the question asked, is Barack Obama black enough, they keep saying that some African Americans are asking this question but never show not one African American being interviewed saying they would not vote for Obama because he is not black enough, where are these phantom African Americans with this question?

    August 13, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Jo, La Crosse, WI

    What I don't understand is how in today's age can we possibly still have organizations for just black people. What kind of message are we sending when there are organizations like the Association's for Black Journalists or the Association for Black Cardiologists, etc., etc. This is crazy. How would black people feel if there was organizations like the Association for White Journalists and White Cardiologists, etc. I don't care what color you are, if you're qualified for the job, that's good enough for me. I think either Hillary or Barrack would do a great job as president. How about a Hillary/Obama or Obama/Hillary ticket. Let's stop adding the race card into everything.

    August 13, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Michael James, Illinois

    Is anyone asking whether Bill Richardson is Hispanic enough or if Hillary is woman enough? They aren't running to represent just one demographic slice of the country, they are running to represent all of us.

    If people do want to engage in this sort of discussion, can someone at least please define the exact amount of "blackness" that would be required in order for a person to be deemed acceptable?

    Barack clearly has the most "blackness" of all of the major candidates, a gap that is unlikely to be closed by the other candidates. Unless Clinton or Edwards, et al, can demonstrate that they were descended from African slaves, I imagine that the question should pretty much be decided. In any event, it’s the wrong question to begin with.

    As Barack has said, we need to combat the corrosive and destructive notion that appealing to white people must mean there is something wrong. If voters are equating a well-educated, mature and stable family man as not acceptable to any community, the problem lies within that community and not the man in question. The better question is why there exists this mistrust in black America of a black man like Obama running for office?

    August 13, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. j, MPLS, MN

    He is blacker than any of the previous presidents in the history of this country

    August 13, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Vincent King, Phoenix AZ

    Given the fact that his mother is a white woman from Kansas, I wonder why no one is asking whether he is white enough? (answer: Because it is an even MORE stupid question than is he black enough – albeit for different reasons). Black enough or white enough; the only things that SHOULD matter is whether he is intelligent enough, moral enough, strong enough, competent enough, visionary enough, and committed enough to pull this country out of the free fall it has been in for almost 7 years. But alas, this IS America, so let's spend two MORE weeks on a question as dumb as this.

    August 13, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Linda - Albany, NY

    I honestly do not care about someone's "ethnical background" – it's about qualification and record for me.

    Voting for someone based on their ethniticity is about as close-minded as voting for a particular party only due to affiliation.

    Sometimes "tradition" needs to be put aside.

    August 13, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Bob, New York, NY

    Usually the liberal media save this type of scare tactic for the Republican candidate, not for the opposing liberal candidate.

    The President is repsonsible for protecting the interests of all Americans, not certain races or groups. Too bad that certain people haven't figured that out yet.

    August 13, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. lavelle

    He would be the first true African American president. Because his roots is easier to trace and track as to where his ancestors have come from. Unlike the "Afircan Americans" that look to find what will make him black enough. Cant even trace there family tree past there grandmother! So yes lay off the retarded question. I think this is all propaganda against blacks in this country taking advantage of blacks inexperience in politics! There really putting us to the test and I hope we suprise everyone! Go Obama

    August 13, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Brenda, MD

    Shame on CNN and those finding any kind of validity in this article. Why does race even matter? Why is it that a presidential election (the most significant election in this country if you ask me) cannot seem to transcend racial barriers? Isn't that sad? We should be focused on the best person for the job regardless of race, sex, religion, etc. This is the land of the free afterall, yet we hold our top political figure to a different standard. Why? Are people really that afraid to speak out in favor of change? Haven't we learned anything from allowing Bush to represent us for the past eight years? Perhaps it's because I'm in my early 20's, and my peers and I haven't been touched by too many racial issues. The most I ever experienced was from parents/adults having issues with a white girl and a black girl being best friends. Regardless, this is not a racial matter and really shouldn't be made out to be one.

    August 13, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. David, Gilbert Arizona

    The question itself is a red herring. It is a devisive question, one which evokes emotion, and yet the question really has no meaning or significance.

    Judging a person by the color of their skin is disingenuous. Historically people of all races have intermingled and miscegenated in the United States. No one is black enough. No one is white enough either.

    Of course the term African American carries the same confusion. A white person born in South Africa who immigrates to the United States is an African American. A black person whose ancestors are from the Caribbean is not an African American.

    I find it sad that our modern society still feels it necessary to categorize people, even when the catergories are obsolete. I understand fully Michelle Obama's frustration. There are much more important issues than whether or not Barack, or any candidate, is black enough.

    August 13, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Patrick, Huntington, NY

    I really don't care about this. What I care about is the real issues, not these media-hyped made for TV questions about one's ethnicity. So, please stop asking these stupid questions, and get these guys and gals to answer, with specificity, how they are going to fix this country after the mess created by Bush!

    August 13, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. monica rochester, NY

    It must be so frustrating for the Obama's to have to deal with this innane question. The point is that he's Human enough, he's not just some political machine. He's a what you see is what you get candidate, of which we are in desperate need.

    Ayveel, he's mostly described as African American because that's how has been and will be treated by the world. In everyday interactions no one makes a distinction between a person who's 100% black versus 50% vs 75%, we're all treated the same way in America. I know, I'm black, my daughter is half black half german. Although she's proud of both sides of herself, no one ever considers her german. She's treated by the world as pure black. (well...sometimes Puerto Rican).

    August 13, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. nate foster

    lavelle, I thought I was the only one who noticed that the media has already crowned Hillary as our soon-to-be Queen.

    Her photos and comments are featured every few minutes during newscasts. She is always positioned front and center in every debate, (hot-pink outfits notwithstanding), while others like Kucinich, Biden, etc are practically off-stage.

    She is always called on during debates for every softball, mean-nothing question, and she is never challenged by the moderators or news interviewers for details on her innocuous cliches and trite answers. While others are left to answer the more difficult or 'attack/setup questions'.

    The media can so easily control our election process is pitiful. Just ask Howard Dean – they sunk him for screaming.

    August 13, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Andy J., Upstate, NY

    Is this not one of the most obvious distraction tactics you have ever seen?

    And what is the "black enough" comment all about? So, in order to truly be black you can't be educated, charismatic, well spoken and honest? Obviously Obama is black – period. There is no black enough.. just black or not black. This man should be the role model for all Americans, especially black Americans, and this absurd question of "is he black enough?" should never be asked again.

    August 13, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Brenda, MD

    Perhaps you should stop feeding into CNN if you have such a problem Claude.

    I'm on the fence as to who to vote for in the primaries, but I will say this. Perhaps those who are such avid supporters of Obama make such a big deal about these racial comments ("What gives Obama hope that America is ready for a black president?"–which he didn't even answer). The man is not running on race/the color of his skin; he is running on much more than that. However, those complaining about CNN are the very one's who endorse it with the silly comments on race and such. You do realize you're pulling voters away from supporting him right? Who wants to deal with a race-based election (and you complainers are making it that way)? No one. The office of president is a lot more than skin color.

    August 13, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. J , Roseville, Ca

    The question, "Are you black enough" is as hilarious (but sad) "I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day,". "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."

    August 13, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Caroline

    Only some ignorant person would ask such a question! If all the black men were like Obama, the world would be a better place! The guy has it all. He has my vote. I am a white woman I might add.

    August 13, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. marva willis milwaukee wi

    Barack has my vote an I am a black wisconsin....

    August 13, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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