Home Chameleon September 09 G. K. Butterfield, Pot and Kettle?

G. K. Butterfield, Pot and Kettle?

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In an article recently released by the Associated Press, the topic of Obama's "true colors: black, white... or neither?" is thoroughly discussed. While many would applaud the AP for at least attempting to tackle this sensitive issue, one could not help but notice that they and some of the other news outlets still generally refer to the president-elect ubiquitously as either African-American or black. While his rise to the presidency is historic for a non-white person, this should not diminish the fact that he is multiracial.

Now, what's interesting about the aforementioned article is what a particular U.S. Representative had to say about the notion that Obama is not black. Hailing from North Carolina's first congressional district is G. K. Butterfield:

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/congress/members/photos/228/B001251.jpg

The Associated Press reports that Mr. Butterfield, "a black man who by all appearances is white, feels differently" about the notion that Obama should not be labeled black. Butterfield comments on Obama's appearance:

His physical appearance is black. I don't know how he could have chosen to be any other race. Let's just say he decided to be white — people would have laughed at him

It is quite astonishing that Butterfield, of all people, would try to project a black identity onto Obama using this type of logic because it can easily be reversed. For example:

Butterfield's physical appearance is white... Let's just say he decided to be black - people would have laughed at him.

Even today, Mr. Butterfield insists that he "is certainly not white." While one should exude admiration for this U.S. Representative that led civil rights marches as a young man, I must point out that his notions of race and the people that embody them are a bit outdated.

Mr. Butterfield went on to tell the AP, "You are a product of your experience. I'm a U.S. congressman, and I feel some degree of discomfort when I'm in an all-white group. We don't have the same view of the world, our experiences have been different."

One could arbitrarily define the context of what he meant by "experiences" all day, so I'll just take issue with his last two statements. This perpetuation of extreme differences that Mr. Butterfield feels when amongst an "all-white group" is strictly mental. While there are differences among different groups of people (multiracials, whites, blacks, asians etc.) it is quite hyperbolic and superfluous for him to feel discomfort. With that said, some out there have denounced Mr. Butterfield's notion that it is absurd for Obama to not be considered black. If we listen to Mr. Butterfield and go by looks, which I must add that Obama doesn't look like most African-Americans, then George Kenneth Butterfield, Jr. is the first and only white member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Comments (15)Add Comment
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written by Mmarine, September 10, 2009
"If we listen to Mr. Butterfield and go by looks, which I must add that Obama doesn't look like most African-Americans, then George Kenneth Butterfield, Jr. is the the first and only white member of the Congressional Black Caucus."

Loving it!
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written by Kate, September 10, 2009
Obama obviously played the race card this election by trying portray himself as black. He and everyone else knows that he isn't black. If he thought he was truly black why would he call himself a "mutt" just the other day? I'm sure Kanye West might take issue with that. Or then again a mutt is in the white house, how about that Mr. West...
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written by Paul, September 10, 2009
Point?
Simple - Butterfield is a joke. I can't believe people voted for this guy.
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written by Lester Holt , September 11, 2009
Although I enjoy the reflections established within the article I fail to see what the phrase "pot and kettle" have to do with anything.
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written by Priscilla, September 11, 2009
Is it just me or does anyone find this statement arrogant -

"His physical appearance is black. I don't know how he could have chosen to be any other race. Let's just say he decided to be white — people would have laughed at him"

Who made him the judge on what someone "looks like". You would have "thunk" someone of his stature would know that it all depends on where you are from. Even in America black to one person isn't the same to another.
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written by Chameleon, September 12, 2009
Thanks for the comments:

Lester, Pot and Kettle refers to when Butterfield said that Obama should be called black because he supposedly looks black. This is "pot and kettle" because Butterfield doesn't want to be called white even though he obviously looks the part.
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written by Lindsey, September 12, 2009
Although I'd disagree on who and who looks like an average "african american" I would say that you highlighting the contradiction in Butterfield is genius!
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written by Alice, September 12, 2009
Does anyone find that Butterfield resembles the muffin man out of charlie and the chocolate factory (the original)?
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written by Lester Holt , September 13, 2009
Ok I got ya.
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written by Z, August 17, 2010
Wow this guy is whiter then most white folks i know. haha
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written by Jeffrey E. Savage, December 02, 2010
G.K. Butterfield is a super guy and a real champion. I am glad he's our representative in Congress.
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Pot and Kettle
written by Jacob Parker, May 16, 2011
G.K. Butterfield is African American ... So again it is perception and why here in the U.S.A. in 1920 mulatto was dropped as a race distinction because many Americans with multi-ethnic backgrounds like Butterfield were assumed to be white only to be judged and treated differently once the revelation that their ancestry included African and Native American origins. It is white ambivalence that Mr. Butterfield is referring to when he says he does not feel comfortable in an "all-white" group because I am sure he has experienced the negative biting judgement of ethnic groups because those in the "all-white" group now felt safe to spew their rhetoric. @Kate most African-Americans ala Americans are MUTTS ... Our American society and hence government has asked people to pick a group. BTW Rashida Jones is African-American as well ...
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Differences in perception
written by CBH, July 26, 2011
To many African Americans, it is clear that Butterfield is not "White". He looks "mixed" and definitely sounds "black". The fact this discussion is taking place shows that race does matter in the US. Like it or not, racial/color identfy is an undeniablepart of the fabric of our society. We see each other, and then decide how we will act or react. It is what it is.
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The answer is rooted in history
written by Stewart Powell Barnes, August 25, 2013
I have to say that I am really taken back by most of the perspectives in these answers. They seem to ignore the reality of history. One can be bi-racial and call themselves black all day long. However...when you attempt to join that exclusive Country Club you will be judged as black. When you sit at a bank for a business loan you will be judged as black. When you take a white girl to the Senior Prom you will be viewed as black. When you shop for a home in a exclusive area you will be viewed as black. It is history that set the stage of which we act out our lives. Iy was once, and still is known as the "1 drop of blood" rule.
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written by benz can filter, November 12, 2013
This rating is based on the evaluation of the manufacturer’s recommended child restraints for an 18-month infant and a 3-year old child. Firstly, the child seats are tested in Euro NCAP’s frontal and side impact tests and points are scored for the dynamic responses of the dummies.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 04 December 2009 04:23 )  

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