by Eugene Brooks
(Houston, Texas)

Who am I

Who am I

Growing up bi-racial has its own unique issues that are usually never discussed. Bi-racial individuals have a problem identifying "normally" with either race. We are caught in the middle and find ourselves struggling with who we are and with what race offers us acceptance.

My background is very similar to that of Barrack Obama. My love for a man that gave me clarity and hope is very similar to the love that Senator Obama has towards Rev. Wright. After discovering that we are black, and that acceptance by white people because our mothers are white is dispelled, we then had to learn how to be black.

After years of searching for my place, I met a man who inspired me and taught me how to be a black man. In addition to teaching me how to be a black man, he also taught me how to be a caring and loving human being. He stressed the fact that I must be aware of how people view me and treat, but how I view and treat them does not require that I take race into consideration.

The absence of a male black figure in Senator Obama’s childhood was filled by Reverend Wright in the same way that the gentleman who entered my life filled a void for me. I only knew what I would see on the streets and on television about being a black man. I knew that I didn’t want to be a thug, and I could not be a professional athlete because of my lack of physical talent. I was educated and surrounded by white people who I knew would accept me only to a certain degree. It was not because they did not like me as a person. It would only be, in some cases, just because of my skin color. Where was my place in America?

My mentor taught me that I would be viewed and treated as a black man, irrespective of how I viewed myself. However, the defining of who I am as a person can only be done by me. He taught me not only how to be a proud black man, but also how to be a compassionate and understanding human. There were views that he had on issues with which I did not agree in the least bit. It did not in any way change how I viewed this man. I loved this man for giving me the keystone in which I was building my arch in life. This man took on the role of my father. The things that my father could not teach me were supplied to me through this man that I know, love and adore. He answered a question that I had been in search of all my life. The question that had kept me from being whole my entire life was now filled by this man. The hole I tried filling with money, sex, drugs and alcohol was now filled by this gentleman. Neither my mentor nor Rev. Wright (nor any of us, for that matter) is perfect.

Rev. Wright answered some of these same questions for Sen. Obama. When reading his book, Dreams from my Father, it was apparent that Senator Obama struggled with his identity. Sen. Obama acknowledges that he drank at an early age and experimented with drugs. He made a good decision not to continue this destructive behavior and turned his attention towards his education. Yet, still, he lacked a black male in his life to teach him how to be a black man in America and also a loving caring person at the same time. While Rev. Wright’s remarks were not wholly accepted and endorsed by Senator Obama, this difference in perspectives in no way changed Senator Obama's views about and loyalty to the man that filled an abyss in the senator's quest to be the best human he can be. There is no college or accomplishments that could have filled that hole. There is no amount of money or intellect that he may have possessed that would accomplish what only another human could. The idea that he could divorce himself and deny the love and appreciation for Rev. Wright is not plausible. We all forgive our fathers for things that happened in our homes. We forgive for things he may say towards us or our mothers.
Rev. Wright has a place of father, mentor, teacher in the senator's heart and soul. To have disavowed Rev. Wright would have been an abomination. I could never leave or separate from the man that gave me and my life meaning and hope. The idea of hope and love is the most attractive attribute of Senator Obama. America is in a state of hopelessness. People have stopped dreaming of better days. This lack of "Hope and Dreams" of a better tomorrow is what has transcended ethnicity, age, and socio-economic status in attracting the masses to the philosophies of Senator Obama. That which attracts so many of us to Senator Obama is due in no small part due to the role Rev. Wright has played in the senator's life. The idea of looking for good in people and understanding is a lost art.

My mentor told me that once I realized that it was not for me to be understood, but for me to be understanding, I would then be on my way to being a loving human being. I believe Senator Obama understands through this journey of self-identification that he is not only a Black man, but more importantly a caring and compassionate human being who wants to make a change in people’s lives.

Once we all truly understand the importance of Rev Wright to Senator Obama’s development as a whole person, we then can understand and appreciate the ability of a human to respectfully disagree with another's views, while compassionately appreciating the goodness of others. I think someone once referred to this phenomenon as tolerance. Hmmm. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that tolerance and empathy are more than the stuff of which lofty goals and sound bites are made. They are laudible and deeply held virtues of the man I hope to soon call Mr. President.

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