Obama's Run Forces Debate on Black Identity

Candidacy highlights growing divides in black America
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2008 12:05 PM CDT
Barack Obama is hugged by a pedestrian while the Rev. Al Sharpton, right, looks on before an Obama fundraiser in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007.    (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama's candidacy has drawn overwhelming support from the black community but also sparked debate on how much of a community it really is. The Wall Street Journal examines how Obama's international and biracial heritage highlights the growing diversity of black America, and some of the tensions this has created.

Some feel Obama is a symbol of a growing class divide among African-Americans, noting that black immigrants and their children tend to fare better than the native born. Others believe the candidate can help bridge that gap by making middle-class blacks less likely to shy away from their roots. "Obama hasn't sacrificed his blackness," said the director of a Harlem social-services agency. "He has senators doing the homeboy hug."