Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma
“Barack is caught between two worlds and struggles for acceptance by either side–Black enough? White enough? It’s a fine line that he must walk,” writes Illinois state Senator Rickey Hendon, in Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma, a personal memoir of the historic 2008 presidential election. Hendon, an African American senator from Chicago’s blighted West Side, was a veteran politico firmly aligned with other Black leaders when the man who would go on to become the golden presidential hopeful was an upstart balancing atop America’s cultural fence in one the most notoriously segregated cities in the nation. This newcomer was of a different stock than Chicago’s old guard, which boasted icons such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, late Mayor Harold Washington and Minister Louis Farrakhan, and was initially eyed with some suspicion–even by Hendon himself as the two served side by side in the Illinois state Senate. And as Hendon explains in this book, the phenomenon that became Barack Obama, the audacious presidential hopeful, was created not just by wooing America’s whites, but also by winning acceptance by America’s Blacks. Hendon begins Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma with Obama’s announcement of his presidential bid on February 10, 2007, and follows his entire campaign in a journal-like fashion, all the way to the November 4, 2008 election. This running account is peppered with Hendon’s own observations, insights, inside information, and personal anecdotes of his long history with Barack Obama. Hendon pulls no punches and offers a warts-and-all look at how Obama’s campaign tiptoed across a tightrope to gain the confidence of white Americans without angering African Americans–the latter not always being successful. Since the book was compiled from a journal that Hendon kept of events as they were unfolding during the marathon campaign, we find ourselves transported back to Super Tuesday to race endlessly against a tenacious Senator Hillary Clinton, dodge scandals involving “militant” pastors and “terrorist friends,” to play running mate roulette with Republican opponent Senator John McCain. Some of the discussion deals with issues and incidents that have long since been resolved, and perhaps even forgotten, however, the memory of the uncertainty, the tough choices, the curve balls, the dirty tricks, the surprise game changers, and most of all, the nail biting stress, is preserved just as we should all want to remember it–when we were there!