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Why Not Call Him 'Interracial'?

March 30, 1990

As the parent of an interracial child, I found Barack Obama an extreme example of the way society casts individuals into unquestioned sociopolitical classifications based upon skin tone ("Barack Obama's Law, " March 12).

Here we have a person born of two races whose parents are citizens of Kenya and the United States, who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and yet he finds himself at the age of 28 funneled and filtered into a category called "black" in an article that I imagine was intended to profile his achievements. After 38 paragraphs of the racial story we finally get to what "truly distinguishes" Obama: "his ability to make sense of complex legal arguments and translate them into current social concerns."

The refusal to allow interracial people to identify themselves as such, and especially to acknowledge at all times their intimacy with two (or more) racial groups, I find as reactionary in this day and age as Jim Crow and Manzanar.

While Mr. Obama has indeed become the first "black" to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review, he remains nonexistent as an interracial person, not to mention an individual.

DIANA QUINN ROSE, Malibu

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