Out writer Andrew Jolivétte on Obama and race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-17 02:36Z by Steven

Out writer Andrew Jolivétte on Obama and race

Windy City Times
Chicago, Illinois

David-Elijah Nahmod

History was made a few short years ago, when Barack Obama became the first African American president in U.S. history. Though it’s been mentioned, the fact that the president is actually half white hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention.

There’s no question that American demographics are changing rapidly. The Leave It To Beaver/Father Knows Best nuclear family is disappearing, and is being replaced by families that encompass all the colors of the rainbow.

In his new book, Obama and the Biracial Factor (The Policy Press), professor Andrew J. Jolivétte of San Francisco State University offers a series of essays in which a variety of writers discuss the changing colors of the American landscape. The writers are all university academics, representing a variety of schools and ethnicities. Jolivette talked with Windy City Times about why he felt the book was needed, as well as his own status as a multicultural gay man.

Windy City Times: Can you tell us about the classes you teach at San Francisco State University?

Andrew J. Jolivette: I started teaching almost 12 years ago at the University of San Francisco. It was a people of mixed-descent class that focused on people who are multiracial. I was born and raised in San Francisco and moved to Oakland about eight years ago. For the past two years I’ve been chair of the American Indian Studies Department at San Francisco State University.

I’ve taught a lot of different classes over the years: Mixed Race Studies, People of Color and AIDS, American Indian Education, American Indian Religion and Philosophy, and Black Indians in the Americas. I suppose because of my training in sociology I am interested in many different social and behavior explanations for societal inequalities, especially for Native Americans, LGBT and communities of color…

…WCT: Why do you think there’s a need for this book?

Andrew J. Jolivette: My own background as a Louisiana Creole (French, American Indian–Opelousa and Atakpa, African and Spanish ) has always hadan impact on my identity. Growing up I wasn’t sure where I fit in exactly in terms of race. My father is a Creole from the Southwest and my mother is African American and American Indian from Alabama and Indianapolis. People always tried to guess what my background was and I’ve heard just about everything from Egyptian and Cuban to East Indian. People from mixed backgrounds are often forced to move between different identities. In the case of Mr. Obama, I argue he knows how to navigate through many different communities. He can relate to white Americans, Black Americans and many other groups because he’s lived in so many different cultures. He has found a way to relate to people that helped him get elected…

…WCT: When he was first elected, much was made of Obama being the first Black president. Do you have any insight as to why his biracial status hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention?

Andrew J. Jolivette: Most of the country still argues that if you have any African or Black ancestry you will be seen and treated as Black. This is true only to a certain extent. In the book, I argue that being half white, being biracial, also shapes who he is as a person…

Read the entire article here.

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