Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Post Racialism

While I was never an Obama supporter, my hope for his campaign was that it would further along the cause of "post racialism." Face it -- race has been an albatross around America's neck since before the founding. Far too much is seen in the prism of race. And race has left America with a legacy of bitterness and anger with respect to 11 percent of our population.

Most major black politicians come to prominence through the traditional civil rights leadership. As such, for good or ill, they are too connected to the racial divide to really fight it, even when they run for office under the banner of black empowerment.

I hoped that Obama would transcend race (I have always seen him as the liberal yuppie candidate, not the black candidate) mostly because he did not have the usual path that most black leaders had. His father was not the descendant of southern slaves, but rather was born a subject of the British crown. His mother was white, and from a comfortable middle class background.

Obama lived for a while outside the US. When here, he lived in the least "white" state in the US and went to a somewhat exclusive school. So for good or ill, all the baggage, cultural and historical, positive and negative, that gets attached to the previous generations of black leaders did not get attached to him.

In some ways it was the same with Collin Powell. Powell's parents were Jamaican immigrants, not native US blacks. He went to West Point and was immersed in the military culture. Hence he was able to be himself, without reference to almost 400 years of the black experience in America.

That is what I really hope for Obama -- that he loses the presidency, not because he is half black, but because people decide he is not the one for the job (in the same way HRC lost the Democratic nomination, not because she is a woman but because people thought Obama was better). Yes there are lots of people who will not vote for him because he is black. But many others (white and black) will vote for him because he is.

Will Obama be that post racial transformational character? That is a lot to ask someone and probably very unfair, as he is trying to run for President and be himself. In light of the Wright fiasco, I am not sure we are there yet. But I think we are getting closer.

Some proof?

The daughter of the President of the United States gets married, the minister is black, and no one really notices! (Well, the Anchoress did and her reaction was the same as mine)

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