Birthers and Brawlers

The White House released President Obama’s “Certificate of Live Birth” today. This “official” document adds to the others, including the “Certification of Live Birth,” which had already been released, as well as the mountain of other evidence which proves the man was born in Hawaii.

This won’t fully extinguish the so-called “birthers” from proclaiming their doubt and continuing their efforts to “free the United States” from the “foreign takeover” that is the Obama Presidency. Simply put: a “movement” based on a preponderant lack of critical analysis can not be defeated by evidence. There is no way to sufficiently disprove something that had no reasonable proof of being true in the first place. Since their “belief” is really based on racial fear and the desire for their myth to be true, many will hold steadfast to their cause.

No matter what we believe about this “controversy” now is a useful time to (re)reflect on what it all means. Why is it this president has had to face this particular charge? Why is there a constituency in this country who continued to believe this myth in the face of evidence to the contrary? Why are there people who believe it now? Why have their been politicians who have used this as a rallying point for their own gain?

We live in a time and place where the effects of racism are palpable and yet hard to fully comprehend. One of the reasons for this is the complexity of some of the ways race acts to frame inequity in our present. Another reason is that we have been robbed of the tools to analyze even the simplest of its manifestations.

This is one of the latter occasions. If we are smart about it, we will use it as a teachable moment for ourselves, a time to critically reflect on the ways racism reproduces itself, generation after generation, because we cling to parts of the past and recast them anew for our present moments.

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