For the author, there is a significant desire to discuss how the implications of race defines one's identity and sense of self. Barack Obama is in a unique role and position to assess this. In being biracial, living with different people from different racial compositions, and examining the issue of race in different settings growing up, he is able to see that racial identity is, in large part, a social construct. Along these lines, he is able to fully grasp that seeing its social nature, how others perceive it is of vital concern to how it is seen, in general.
Obama writes from the point of view that part of what makes racial understanding so difficult is that it requires the individual to view it from "the other," to see an issue that impacts people so personally through the eyes of "the other." As someone who grew up biracial, he was in a great position to do this. He understood the concept of race as something that is defined in large part by how others see it. His own identity as having one foot planted in one world of racial recognition, and in another world where racial recognition is seen through the eyes of others compels him to be able to assert that the challenging element of race is to fully understand our own comprehension of it as well as how other members of a social setting view it.
In this, Barack Obama, even in the "Americanization" of his own name as "Barry," represents how one's absorption of race is something that one must recognize is embedded in both self-understanding as well as in appropriating the perception of others on the issue of race.