Where is my black president?

In 2008, as an Arab American and person of color, I voted for Barack Obama. I didn’t vote for him because he was a Democrat. I didn’t vote for him because he was a community organizer. I didn’t vote for him because he was young, or educated, or magnetic. I voted for him for one reason and one reason only. I voted for Barack Obama because he’s black.

According  to the Pew Research Center, in the 2008 presidential elections, almost every black voter cast his or her ballot for Barack Obama. That statistic surprises no one, I presume. But more interesting than that number is the rate that other minorities and people of color voted for the first black president.

Latinos voted for Obama at a clip of 67%.  62% of Asian voters supported him. That means that he registered 6.5 million out of 9.7 million Latino votes, while scoring 2.1 million out of 3.3 million Asian votes.

At the same time, he received 15.1 million out of 15.9 million black votes in 2008. That’s a rate of 95%. Those kinds of numbers make Bashar al-Assad jealous.

Voter turnout among black voters was up 15% in 2008 as compared to 2004. Asian voter turnout increased by 14%, and Latino voter turnout rose a whopping 27%.

When 2008’s black, Latino, and Asian voters were taken together, 23.7 million of the 28.9 million voted for Barack Obama. In other words, 83% of these minority voters went for him.

Also, there may be as many as 7 million Muslims in America, and, according to a poll conducted by the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections, 89% of Muslim voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008. I’m not sure whether or not that statistic includes the president himself.

On the other hand, out of the 100 million white Americans who voted in 2008, again according to Pew, only 43% voted for President Obama. And that number most likely includes voters who are legally considered “white,” like Arab Americans, who, according to the Arab American Institute, voted for Obama at a rate of 67%. 28% voted for John McCain. The rest voted for their brother Ralph Nader. That’s how he got his 1%.

We can probably safely assume that Mr. Obama also received the lion’s share of votes among other “white” communities here, like Iranian Americans and Turkish Americans. Probably Chechens too. So, in reality, if we were to only imagine those white voters who were really think of as white in this country, that 43% number might drop considerably.

If it weren’t for those 100 million pesky white voters, Barack Obama wouldn’t have had to campaign at all. His blackness would have taken him straight to the White House.

So, we have 83% of recognized minorities (black, Latinos, and Asians), 89% of Muslims, and 67% of Arab Americans, all voting for Barack Obama in 2008. Many of the white voters who chose him most likely also did it for the same reason as their fellow Americans of color. Why did they all vote for him? Like me, they did it because he’s black.

Should the president be speaking more loudly and forcefully about the unnecessary criminal killing of black men at the hands of police throughout America? Yes! And why should he? Because he’s black, and that’s why we voted for him.

Should the president be commenting about how race is at the center of certain issues even when it might not be fashionable to do so? Yes! And why should he? Because he’s black, and that’s why we voted for him.

We voted for him because we thought, as a black man, he would bring a unique perspective to leadership that had been so glaringly lacking before he took office.

Since Barack Obama was elected, racial issues in America have been addressed less than they were before. Is he afraid that people might think that if he talks about race, that he is simply doing it because he’s black? Well, to those of us who voted for him, it seems that is precisely the case. In doing so, he is contravening the entire purpose for which we elected him.

Mr. Obama, we didn’t vote for you because racism is over. We voted for you because the road is still long. And you were supposed to be our leader in that journey.

We voted for you because you are black. We expected you to bring that to the office. We expected you to be the leader for us when Trayvon Martin’s killer was exonerated. We expected you to say that while we, as a nation of laws, must respect the verdict, we must also be outraged by it. We expected you to say that Trayvon Martin died because he was black, and for no other reason. We expected you to say that Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson is, in fact, about race. We expected you to call for the arrest of Darren Wilson. We expected you to say that Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and the numerous other unarmed black men killed by police and others are victims of a society that sees them as threatening criminals, simply because of their race.

We expected you to say all of these things. We didn’t just expect you to.  In fact, we needed you to.

As Cornel West declared early this week, it seems “we got played.” Rather than use the huge political capital that Americans of color and conscience overwhelmingly gave him when he entered office, he became a “neoliberal opportunist.”

Instead of representing and speaking for the people that actually voted for him, he is too busy trying to satisfy those that didn’t.

We elected a black president. And he has made fools of us all.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Hard-hitting post, Mr. Zahr! You give us numbers and also truthiness. We can sadly nod along with that but chuckle in your ever-present comic’s voice. You had me smiling at:

    • 89% of Muslim voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008. I’m not sure whether or not that statistic includes the president himself.
    • That’s a rate of 95%. Those kinds of numbers make Bashar al-Assad jealous.

    Keep up the good work, sir. Maybe “our” president will show up after his last mid-term election battle.

  2. Why is there no “white” voices expressing the same outrage at the fundamental injustice perpetrated, being the first black president is far more complex when you are called to be the president of all….and the white folks think (because their history teaches…) they are the “all”!!! No one cuts Barack any slack ever, I think he and his family will welcome moving day …

  3. He isn’t black Amer. In the US you call the child of a black and a white parent “black.” In Brazil, for example, I’m told such a person might be called “white.” I’m Australian. One of my sons is “blacker” than Obama. When visiting Malaysia he was seen as Australian.

  4. I did not vote for Obama…not in ’08 and not in ’12. I sat out both elections. I didn’t vote for him because he was the first candidate to drape himself in the Israeli flag at the AIPAC meeting. Even Jon Stewart saw that and commented on it. I didn’t vote for him because he was told by the Emanuelle brothers to distant himself from Rashid Khlidi (his longtime friend). I expect nothing from Obama as I have not expected anything from any other US president.

  5. When I first espied Obama speaking for John Kerry, I felt a thrill upon hearing his name–Barack Hussein!–and I thrilled upon learning that his father used to herd goats in Kenya. Here is a golden man of African origin whose father came to the United States not as a slave but a free man and who married a white woman without being lynched. And he was a friend of Rashid Khalidi. The Arabic names and the exotic ethnicity seemed to promise a fearless, educated, cosmopolitan politician who would pave the road to understanding and acceptance of all people, not just certain groups, especially Zionists. May I tell you how chagrined and hoodwinked I am feeling?

  6. https://www.facebook.com./groups/PalestineArabProZionism/ You are amazing,in your apparent innocent oblivious attitude about the common kinship of two articles I just caught! The common ethnic patrilineal nature of PalestineArab & SudnArab Bidani white Racism against both Arabist empire occupied environs, the Judeans & Africans,should be on Pres. Obama’s agenda ,because he is African,NOT BLACK AS MY USA BLACK SOCIAL KIN,INFORM ME! bUT YOUR OTHER ARTICLE ABOUT ARAB whiteness is the complimentary racist fraud you sell as “people of colourism”! You have proven ZERO SOLIDARITY WITH BLACKS,BY YOUR 100% disregard for your SudanBidani(white) kin, genocide against Africans! That would be vital to your PalestineArab bidani,white kin,as a issue,if you really cared about the human race! But ,you are an Arabist empire racist! Or should I say you are a loyal fighter on the western front, for Racist Arabism’s empire! Your beautifull standard of mercantilist sales pitching the Palestine-Ions ,rooted from Palestine-Eons back, in history, is just so sad & sorrow filled! But you are now exposed, as the PalestineArab bidani white racist, you really are! Thanks, You made my argument so much easier, than I could with out your blatant contradicting your premises, in their whole totality! Your KKKArabist invisible empire,is wearing no clothes! But your colonies of the SudanArab & PalestineArab Bidanis’, occupation over Darfur, Nubia, Beja, Kordofan & Nuba nations,is now on display,for our human race!Thanks again!

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