August 13th, 2007
01:04 PM ET
3 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. Lou, Mississippi

    Bravo! Mr. Vincent King from AZ.

    Senator Obama is Black and White enough for me. This question comes from the Clinton campaign. They KNOW they are going to lose the black vote to his man. They better atleast try to keep what White vote they might get.

    August 13, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Darren, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Utter foolishness! Hey news media, how about more issues and details, less obfuscation and abuse of journalistic duties. Take an issue, break it down for the public, provide some historical perspective, and give the people some insight about our prospective leader's position and the implications of choosing such a person for leadership. Is a white person white enough? Is a black person black enough? What kind of silly stuff are you reporting? And please tell me who could honestly answer such a ridiculous question with any certainty? I can tell you one thing, the news media is not news enough!

    August 13, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    For the record this was asked by a black person at the National association of black journalists meeting. White folks had nothing to do with it.

    Maybe at the National association of caucasion journalists meeting someone will ask Mitt Romney if he is white enough to lead american whites.

    What's that you say, there is no such association. But that can't be.......

    The more we single out and divide by gender, race etc, etc the farther apart we become.

    August 13, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Brian, Chicago, IL

    I agree with Bernard's comments. There aren't any real black folks out there asking this question in private conversation.

    This "black enough" dilemma is a media creation, plain and simple. It's not even being discussed among the folks.

    August 13, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. Jess, Madisonville, KY

    Vincent King, I read your comment and laughed out loud! Perfect response to this crap-story from Clinton News Network.

    "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.

    Posted By Vincent King, Phoenix AZ : August 13, 2007 1:58 pm"

    I'm still giggling a little,,, it is such a stupid topic.. PERIOD!! CNN is so biast they spin and spin and SPIN these anti-obama stories.

    August 13, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Spencer Pantera, Fargo, ND

    It seems we're still a long ways off from "a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    August 13, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Chris, Wayne, NJ

    Our next president should be one that represents every american, no matter what there race, religion and financial situation may be.

    The question of whether Obama is "black enough" is absolutly ridiculous and highlights the ever growing racial tensions that still exist in our country and underline the political process. Exactly what percentage of a candidate's record is required to be "black" to qualifiy him/her to be president? If that question is asked, do we also need to ask what percentage of a candidate's record and positions are "white" or "hispanic" enough. Absolutly not. We are one America. Our president must represent us all and keep our general interests in mind. Just because Obama is black or Hillary is a woman does not mean that obama must cater exculsively to the black community or hillary to women just because they fall in that general category. If that is what they intend to do then neither should be elected. An american president is one who represents us all and shows no bias nor malice towards anything and is always truthful and objective.

    August 13, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Or is he TOO black? Can you have too much black? Hmmmmmmm......

    By the way, what is black? Seriously, what is the mainstream definition of black? Is that something we should elect to serve us.

    August 13, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Darren, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Tom in Mass,

    No offense intended, but I do not recall mentioning the race of the particular journalist or news organization in my statement. Reporting on silly, inconsequential matter is prevalent in the "news media", not the black or white or latino media, but all collectively. However, in a society with a history of privilege for one race over others, it is impossible not to discuss race. We are not a color blind nation, and likely will not become one in the immediate future. That being said, discussing race in terms of the effect of political decisions and policies is fair game, but asking one to explain whether they are black or white enough is just silly. Are any of the men male enough or is Hillary female enough? Shame on journalists, whatever their racial background or country of origin, for such a question.

    August 13, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. Angela Brandis Ladue , Missouri

    OH MY GOD!!!!! Im sooo sick of the Black enough question. Is Hillary Feminin enough masculine enugh are any of the canidates enough of anything. Are they all American enough. What most expect a black man to be is Loud, semi educated. Associate degree nothing more maybe a little vo tec education. Rap music listening ghetto fabulous. Im Black I will probley vote for Hillary I like Barak but he's not ready. I feel our country is such a mess that we need someone whos been in the trenches for many years, who has experience with dealing with foreign countries and has lived it first hand. Black people are just as racist if not more than white. The expect the worst of their people, they are very unwilling to educate themselves about ploitics if your into politics your a BLONKY AKA. Black honkey. I've heard this term thrown around A LOT about blacks that speak well, that are opposed to RAP music and actually see the great possibility of a black president. Tye terroist are not throwing race cards they dont discriminate they'll kill us all equally...Get over the Racial B.S. already

    Angela Brandis

    Ladue Missouri

    August 13, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. BONITTY, WASH DC

    I BELIEVE IT IS A GOOD POINT TO BRING UP, NOT WORDED EXACTLY THE SAME BUT HOW CAN YOU WEED OUT AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO USE THERE RACE LIKE A TRUMPH CARD.

    August 13, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Atlanta, Georgia

    Oh Michelle Obama, when your black husband comes to the forum 15 minutes LATE, to prove a point that "he is black enough" that is not sending a good message to the "children" now is it? So, tell your husband to stop the non-sense...

    August 13, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Edward, Los Angeles

    I think we need to stop separating our country and start uniting it! Whether Mr. Obama is or isn't "black enough" should not even be brought up. Important should be that he honorably represents his "heritage" and utilizes his culture(s) for the betterment of his Country, people and the world.

    August 13, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. C.MacLean, Raleigh, NC

    Obama is Black enough.
    Clinton is Women enough.
    Richardson is Hispanic enough.
    Guiliani is New Yorker enough.
    Romney is Mormon enough.
    Huckabee is Southern enough.

    ENOUGH!

    The question should be:
    Are any of them good enough?

    August 13, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Tracy, Mpls, MN

    First, Obama is mixed he should have say that on the beginning. It is not the color of t he skin makes you qualified for the president of the USA. Bill was white but was black enough to black because he understood their needs/issues and did his best. I am black woman and i am voting Hillary, she is the best candidate for this country at this time. Obama can wait for next time or be VP by practcng campaign with hope not hate to Hillary.

    August 13, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. Corey,Oklahoma City OK

    This comment has always made me sick to my stomach,Because as an African American male,You would think that we as a people could get past this stupid comment that plagues our community..It's already bad enough,that we have to deal with problems being black in this country,But to go against our own people,Does nothing but further us closer into self-genocide...So open your hearts,eyes and minds and stop being ignorant.

    Corey

    August 13, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Darrius, AR

    They are just trying to hurt Obama by making the debate about race because he was winning the debate about foreign policy.

    August 13, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. Darrius, AR

    P.S.

    Obama was taking on everybody at the same time on foreign policy issues and he was winning. All of the other candidates attacked him over foreign policy. And he was beating all of them simultaneously.

    Nothing makes you look like the President more than beating everyone of your opponents at the same time.

    August 13, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. Jon, Gulfport, MS

    What does it matter if black, white or what? What does it matter if man or woman? Who is the most qualified to direct this country should be the burning question. We have become so self-centered that we will lose the America that we all love because "the other guy can't have it if I can't" syndrome. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the debate while you can. One day you will wake up and America will not be. We have removed all that America stood for and still expect to go on as if all we the same. It ain't gonna happen. I fear that America will cease to be and it will be our fault, no one elses. That is right, you and I are to blame.

    August 13, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. Ask yourself this

    Not to be disrespectful to anyone, but has anybody bothered to ask why in the world would he be married to a black woman if he were trying to be so called "white" or not black? Not saying this makes you the ultimate black man, but it indicates he's definitely not trying to run away from his race.

    August 13, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. miika, Washington D.C.

    More to the point, are any of them stupid enough to think that they'll be elected for something more substantive than questions about their skin colour/gender/religion/financial situation?

    Whatever happened to electing people who are good enough?

    August 13, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Andre' Green, Dalworthington Gardens, Texas

    I think this whole question is ridiculous . What is Black enough? Who is black enough? What in the hell does that mean? Is Mr. Obama supposed to walk up to a podium with his pants sagging and a rag on his head and "hit everybody up?"?
    Growing up, I had to endure endless teasing by my peers because I spoke proper English, could spell, write and enjoyed reading books. It was when I briefly started believing I wasn't black enough that my grades slid and I started getting into trouble at school. My father and his "black enough" belt got me back on track.
    My mother, who didn't finish college until just before my sister went away to college, was very intelligent and she inspired us not to fit in but to excel beyond the ceiling she and her generation were continuously bumping their heads against. My siblings and I at various points, like Mr. Obama, have been labeled as "acting white" or "thinking we are white" when in actuality all we were doing was taking advantage of education everyone else seems to abandon.
    So to answer the "is he black enough question", who really cares. What we should be asking is is he non corporate enough, is he pro labor enough; is he pro education enough; is he progressive enough, and does he care enough about those who have been left behind in the latter part of the Clinton administration and the past six years?
    When we are still worrying about the color of a persons skin instead of their merits, we should be asking ourselves are we "smart enough" not to vote for another war-hawking George Bush.

    August 13, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Obama is every thing enough to be one of America's greatest President, period!

    August 13, 2007 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Texas Girl

    I completely agree with Michelle Obama – this is silly that we continue to ask if Barack is black enough....do we think Hilary is because of Bill? As African Americans, we should support Obama for being a role model for all kids, not just black kids. He is educated, well-spoken and trying to make a positive difference in a world that is filled with anger & hatered. But, yet we support Hilary because of her husband who cheated on her but that is a moral issue we somwhow forget about!!

    Even if you do not agree with Obama's politcal views, I think he should be applauded for his efforts and WE all, particularly our young kids, can learn from him.

    August 13, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. Mahinder, Northbrook, Illinois

    Please address Obama for what he truly is:

    Barak Hussein Obama.

    This wil speak louder than the color of his skin. I care less whether he is white enough or black enough.

    August 13, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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