Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Out writer Andrew Jolivette on Obama and race
BOOKS Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by David-Elijah Nahmod

This article shared 4269 times since Tue Feb 21, 2012
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

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. Jolivette 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: And don't you also work with the LGBT History Museum in San Francisco?

Andrew J. Jolivette: I first involved with the museum as a volunteer many years ago, maybe around 2003. Then, in 2009, a colleague asked me to consider joining the board. After looking and programs I saw how important the work was in narrating the lives and histories of queer people of color in the Bay Area and nationally. I began my work on the board as a co-chair of the program committee, helping to organize film, and speaker series dealing with diversity and inclusion. For the past year and a half I've been co-chair of the board of directors. We are doing some really exciting work this year that will increase our visibility with the museum and the archives program.

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: In your opinion, how big a part does race play in the hostility towards President Obama from the Tea Party and Republicans?

Andrew J. Jolivette: You don't hear things like "food stamp president" or elected officials calling for the president's wife to be a widow, or having a Congressman calling the commander-in-chief a liar during a State of the Union address. Obama is trying to build a different type of ideology and American majority that includes LGBT folks, people from all walks of life, poor and working class, and so this is why we're battling for a new American majority. I think the irony of Conservative comments that say the president is using Politics of Envy or creating class warfare has been used over and over to scare people. Some candidates for the GOP nomination won't even refer to President Obama as President. It's always "Obama" or "this president." It's an indirect, passive aggressive approach to denying Mr. Obama's legitimacy.

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.

At the beginning of his first campaign his "Blackness" was heavily questioned: Was he "Black enough" or "too Black?" As some of the chapters in the book suggest, his private identity is more likely to be multiracial. As a mixed person you are always compromising, trying to fit in and find your place in the world. I think this is true also for LGBT communities. We have to learn to move through the Queer or Gay world, and the mainstream world. So mixed race and LGBT groups are both looking for a world where there is more acceptance. Obama as a biracial person is also looking for a society that is more equitable. His background, like all our backgrounds, does shape how we talk, how we relate and our values.

WCT: How far away do you think we are from an Asian, Latin or female president?

Andrew J. Jolivette: Gender is still something we are also dealing with in this country. From recent attacks on a woman's right to choose to unequal pay for women. I think we also have to shift the ideology in this country that assumes "immigrant" when we think of Asian and Latino communities because when we think Asian and Latino we assume immigrant means not really American. This is why the birther movement is such a big deal.

Consider that no one asked for John McCain's birth certificate and he was born in Panama. Mitt Romney's Father fled to Mexico to avoid U.S. laws, but no one is questioning that because at the end of the day this battle is about using ideology to keep the most powerful and wealthy in the positions they currently hold. If we can build a new, more progressive American majority then perhaps as early as 2016 we might see a female president. Maybe even a queer president will be on the horizon. We just have to move step by step to change our thinking from one view to multiple views and perspectives.

This article shared 4269 times since Tue Feb 21, 2012
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Warhol, Sarah Paulson, upcoming books, Rufus Wainwright, Elliot Page
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled seven to two that the late artist Andy Warhol wasn't allowed to use a photographer's portrait of Prince for a series of pop-art images, per The Hollywood Reporter. Associate Justice Sonia ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Google Doodle, drag laureate, Nebraska bill, NYC AIDS Walk
D.C. poet/activist/journalist Ivy Young passed away at age 75, per a press release. Among other things, Young worked at Chicago's VISTA; the Center for Black Education and Drum and Spear Book Store in D.C.; the ...

Gay News

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy denounces violent acts stemming from political speech
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, along with members of the House Dobbs Working Group responded to increasing acts of violence and threats stemming from political attacks on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community ...

Gay News

Sodomy laws repealed in Minnesota and Maryland
Sodomy laws are no longer on the books in Minnesota and Maryland. According to The Los Angeles Blade, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a public-safety bill into law on May 19 that repeals several anti-LGBTQ+ sections ...

Gay News

CAKE Chicago taking place June 3-4 at Broadway Armory
After several setbacks, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) Chicago will take place June 3-4 at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway. The COVID pandemic caused the cancellations of the 2020 and 2021 in-person expos, and ...

Gay News

Hair coming to Skokie Theater June 23 - July 30
Madkap Productions has announced the cast and creative team for the inaugural show of their 2023-24 season, the rock musical HAIR, with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and music by Gail MacDermot. ...

Gay News

Illinois middle-school teacher loses job for promoting 'This Book Is Gay'
Making This Book Is Gay available to her eighth-grade students resulted in Illinois teacher Sarah Bonner being reported to police—and eventually losing her job, according to an item from The Advocate. According to, Bonner (who ...

Gay News

Writer Sarah Gailey crosses paths with Black Cat for Marvel Voices: Pride #1
Publishing company Marvel Comics has been showing its true colors, with Marvel Voices: Pride #1 returning in 2023 for its third year in June. The comic book series features a wide range of out and proud ...

Gay News

Gigi Gorgeous Spills The T Guide at Chicago Humanities Festival
Chicago Humanities Festival has created events that bring artists and audiences together for one-of-a-kind experiences in the Windy City for years—and 2023 will be no different. Programming slated for this year includes LGBTQ+ favorites such such ...

Gay News

Screenwriter Guinevere Turner book launch June 4; book chronicles growing up with infamous Lyman Family cult
--From a press release - CHICAGO—The book launch of acclaimed screenwriter Guinevere Turner's When the World Didn't End, a memoir of her childhood growing up with the infamous Lyman Family cult, will be held Sunday, June 4, 2-5 p.m. at Whiskey ...

Gay News

Sidetrack drops Anheuser-Busch products after Bud Light controversy
Sidetrack announced May 4 that it would cease selling Anheuser-Busch products after the beverage giant gave in to an anti-trans backlash following an online Bud Light advertisement featuring trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. In a Facebook post, ...

Gay News

Illinois to become first state to punish book-banning
Illinois is about to become the first state to punish public institutions that ban books. Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker has said he supports a House bill that would withhold state funding from any of the state's ...

Gay News

LAMMY Awards announce host, presenters, special guests for June 9 event
--From a press release - New York, NY, May 4, 2023 — Lambda Literary, the nation's premier LGBTQ literary arts organization, announced updates and additions, including host, special guests and more at the upcoming 35th Annual Lambda Literary Awards — aka ...

Gay News

American Library Association releases Top 10 List of Most Challenged Books of 2022
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 24, 2023) — Today, the American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with the release of its highly anticipated list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 and the State ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives holds Spring Soiree benefit event at Sidetrack
Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart) hosted "This Library is QUEER! The Gerber/ Hart Spring Soiree" benefit April 20 at Sidetrack. A large collection of the history and culture of Chicago and the Midwest's LGBTQIA communities is ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.