When Saturday Night Live had Fred Armisen (a white actor) portray Barack Obama in a recent sketch, they took quite a bit of heat. Here are some brief ramblings on this:
First of all, Obama is half white and half african-american. It seems to me that anyone who is at least half white would be just as good a match as anyone who is at least half african-american or black (see this post for a discussion about the distinction between "black" and "african-american.") I suspect that black people who are irate about this are folks who are trying to associate themselves with Obama because he is hot. They want Obama to be one of them.
If SNL had Kenan Thompson (the only black man on the cast) play Obama, that would be the height of affirmative action. He'd only have gotten the job because he is black. He does not seem to have anything close to the right look for the role. Isn't Maya Rudolph still in the cast? She has the advantage of being half black and half white. Maybe she could have done it. Regardless, racial match is less important than finding the person who does the best job of portraying the character. My black brothers need to get irate about stuff that actually matters, and not the casting decisions of a satirical comedy show.
Anyway, it's interesting that this skit has the media thinking harder about how they treat the candidates. It also has us talking more about race. All fun stuff.