…for such a mutt as I

In his first news conference since the election, President-elect Barack Obama responded to reporters’ questions on Monday about the economy, energy, foreign policy and what kind of new puppy would accompany his two daughters to the White House.

He concluded his response to the less-serious question (except in the minds of Sasha and Malia) by saying they would likely get a mutt — and then added, “like me.” It was a casual, comfortable and humorous reference to his interracial heritage.

In many cultures, including the ones in which many of us were raised, persons were overwhelmingly defined by racial makeup. While my childhood friends would brag about being 1/16th Cherokee, a child with a black father and white mother lived in shame for something over which they had no control.

Terms like “half-breed” or worse were used to describe them. One’s ethnicity was used as a noun rather than one of many adjectives.

No one is foolish enough to think America is close to solving all its racial issues. But the presence of the Obama family — regardless of political persuasions — is more than a giant step in the right direction.

Tiger Woods beamed a bigger smile than after any of his one zillion golf titles when noting that America will now have an interracial president — like him.

And for those many other interracial persons who can’t give riveting stump speeches or hit 300-yard drives, at least they might now live with a fuller understanding of their human value as being created in the image of God.

There are no pure-breeds. To paraphrase Will D. Campbell: “We are all (mutts), but God loves us anyway.”


  1. Great post, John. Regardless of whether or not your candidate won, we (Christians) need to realize that government cannot solve the race issues. It is a matter of the heart, which only God can change. Our culture leans toward a preoccupation with race. Although I voted for McCain, I acknowledge the significance of Obama’s election on race relations. Most students in my African American History class were visibly joyful with Obama’s election. They are showing a great deal of interest in the political process, and to their credit, are beginning to focus on getting involved (calling their elected representatives, etc.) I am glad that there is a mood of optimism and a desire to take part in the political process. I just hope we do not deceive ourselves into thinking that government holds the key to the door of racial reconciliation. Pray for hearts to be changed.

  2. I wonder what would have happened if someone else had called him a mutt.

  3. Danny-
    That is the point of SELF-depreciating humor.
    It’s why Jeff Foxworthy and Chris Rock can’t trade jokes.
    Like Foxworthy says: “You shouldn’t make fun of rednecks unless you are one — and I are one.”

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