2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

ColorBlind America - A Real Fairy Tale


Send Letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton:
United States Must be fully Participate in United Nations Conference
 on Eliminating Racism (Durban Review).



Home March 13,2008 Hillary Clinton and Gearldine Ferraro     February 26, 2008 - Tim Russert;     February 21, 2008 - Bill O'Reilly;       February 20, 2008 - Bill O'Reilly;          January 30, 2008 - National Organization of Women - New York;          January 15, 2008  - MSBNC, Brian Williams and Tim Russert Discussion Forum
This site focuses on one issue: racial inequality. It does not endorse or oppose any party or any candidate.


Home                                                    x
Worst Person                               x
Institutional Racism                                    x
Inequalities & the Election                                  x
Race and Racism                              x
Racial Groups                                       x
World Perspective                               x
NAACP Questionnaire                            x
Primaries and Caucuses                             x
Site Map
This website is always under construction please email me  relevant links related to any of the candidates or to race and racism and the election.
African Americans                                         X
Asian Americans                                                   X
European Americans                         X
Latino(a) Americans                                          x
Native Americans                                 x
Pacific Islanders                                       x
Institutional Racism                                     x
01 Race and Racism                                     x
02 Citizenship Rights                                     x
03 Justice                                     x
04 Basic Needs                                     x
05 Intersectionality                                     x
06 Worldwide                                     x

Kai Wright

The Clintons covered a lot of slimy ground in the run-up to South Carolina. They dismissed the relevance of Barack Obama's victory, chalking it up to black voters supporting their own. They put racially loaded jabs in blackface, through stooges like BET founder Bob Johnson. And they lured Obama into daily, petty spats that left his whopping victory feeling like a sideshow to the squabbling. Yet, for all their high jinks, the Clintons are not responsible for injecting race into the campaign; they just rudely forced everyone to acknowledge it.

Obama has eagerly embraced the notion of his racial transcendence. He has cast himself as the embodiment of a post-racial America and not so subtly compared his call for political civility to Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality. The latter appropriation is untidy, at best, but nonetheless compelling to his supporters. They summed up its conceit with an optimistic chant Saturday night: "Race doesn't matter!"

If only it were so. Glossing over race isn't the same as making it irrelevant, and the prospect of Obama successfully selling himself as America's first race-neutral president should worry black folks just as much as the Clintons' desperate race-baiting. Because, for all the recent talk about race and change, neither Obama nor Clinton is prepared to dispel the real "fairy tale" of this campaign: that America is even remotely ready to let go of its baggage about race. That black people have healed from past and present hurts. That white people are ready to relinquish their privilege. That we have overcome.

Obama himself made the point elegantly once, back when he wasn't running for president. He recounted a yarn his white grandfather used to spin, about boldly rejecting Jim Crow Texas. Barack's white mom was a grade-schooler at the time—a bookworm who didn't make friends easily, but who found a companion in a black girl her age. One day, as the pair lay reading in the family's yard, a bunch of ruffians passed by. "Nigger lover!" they taunted, paralyzing the girls with fear. Gramps said the attack so disgusted him that he packed up his life and moved to Seattle.

Inspiring, Obama grants, in recounting the tale in his memoir. But not entirely true. He later discovered that the family actually moved because, well, work dried up and a friend in Seattle hooked grandpa up with a job. "I don't entirely dismiss Gramps' recollection of events as a convenient bit of puffery, another act of white revisionism," Obama writes. "I can't, precisely because I know how strongly Gramps believed in his fictions, how badly he wanted them to be true, even if he didn't always know how to make them so."

Obama's words offer searing insight into white America's racial dilemma—the uncomfortable gap between the equality most genuinely want and the amount of privilege they're willing to cede to get it. Obama's cross-racial political appeal is at least in part due to his keen understanding of that gap, and to his ability to transform white folks' unease with it into something hopeful. Which may be enough to alleviate racial unpleasantries, but it won't make change.

To reach for the future Obama envisions, he must ultimately reject the racial exceptionalism he's been granted. If he does not, he will stand as the crowning achievement of a "colorblind" America, in which the success of a few obscures the degradation of millions—and lets everybody off the hook on creating equality.

Since the dawn of the Reagan era, the right has worked tirelessly to cement this paralyzing understanding of race in America. In the post-civil rights era, the argument goes, the playing field has been legally leveled, and racism, thus, is narrowly defined as an individual personality problem rather than a broad, structural concern.

Yes, there are rogues like Don Imus, this argument allows. But they just need a public tongue-lashing and some counseling to set them straight. And, yes, some blacks aren't making it, but that's also an individual problem. They need job training—nevermind if there are no jobs. They need marriage counseling—nevermind their below-poverty-level household income.

Like the "fictions" of Obama's grandfather, it's an all-too-convenient setup. It means no white person has to actually sacrifice for equality. If we all just get our hearts and minds right, everything will be OK. And what better proof that this fantasy is reality than a post-race black president? What could be more hopeful than a man who bridges the gap between America's dream of equality and its reality of vast, deep disparity.

Indeed, Reagan's America has long pined for such a man. It comes as no surprise that it was the Republicans who first pushed racially transcendent blacks to the upper ranks of government. Their real differences and sparkling talents aside, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Clarence Thomas share a role as not just balms for white guilt but, more importantly, as beacons of white hope, too. Like Obama, they have the power to turn fiction into fact.

If they can rise so high, people believe, we can dismiss the fact that a whopping 48 percent of working-age black men in New York City were unemployed in 2003. If they can be so healthy, we can overlook the 40 percent black-white mortality gap. If they can be so sharp, we can shrug off the still-separate but unequal public school system. All of these things may be tough public problems, but they are not racism. Race, as Obama's giddy throngs told us, doesn't matter.

Obama has sold his racial transcendence as proof of the American dream, and that may just make him our first black president. The question for black America is what he will do with the power he gains from shedding his skin. If he continues to avoid unpleasant questions about race, we're in deep trouble.

In his King Day speech, Obama did point out the structural racism that circumscribes too many black lives. Here's hoping that kind of talk continues. If he uses his transcendence to prod America into a long overdue examination of these structures, he could change the course of history.

Kai Wright is a Brooklyn, NY-based editor and author Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York.


Discussion Forum

This Page Last Updated:
Thursday, July 03, 2008  

You are visitor number
Hit Counter  
Since February 9, 2008


Submit for Periodic Updates
Update List

DEMOCRATIC                   x
Obama                                                    x
REPUBLICAN                            x
McCain                                                    x
McKinney                                         x

This website is always under construction please email me  relevant links related to any of the candidates or to race and racism and the election.
Minnesota Public Radio                        x
WQAD  TV                             x
Australia - US Survey                                 X


Same level:
A Husband-Wife Debate: Obama v Hillary ] A New Type of African-American Politician ] A whiter shade of guilt ] Black and white world ] [ ColorBlind America - A Real Fairy Tale ] Obama VS. Clinton-Black Or White (VIDEO) ] The Irrelevance of Obama's Color ] The peril of pandering ] Racism and Sexism still count in elections ] Elements of ethnicity are now second to humanity ] The Ongoing Evolution Of Obama's "Post-Racial Politics" ] Race Card and Rep James Clyburn ] Understanding the Magic Negro ] Obama' Biggest Obstacle - Voter Suppression ] Some people are blacker than others. ] Chris Rock's 2008 Election Analysis (VIDEO) ] Democrat's Class War ] Democratic Family Splits ] Does Change of Face Mean Change of Pace? ] McCain, Obama or Clinton:  Bush Wins in 2008 ] The Daily Show  Youre Not Helping ] Dreams of 'a new Martin Luther King' ] I-Love-Obama-thus-racism-no-longer-exists phenomenon ] Jesse Jackson on the South Carolina Primary ] Lens of race persists ] Minimal Differences Between Clinton, Obama ] New York's Newest Citizens and the Election ] Plantation politics ] Polls show gender and race won't help or hurt candidates ] Psychological Gang Bang of Hillary ] Racial Diversity in Presidential Campaign Staff ] Racial Stereotyping & the Election ] Setting Up Easy Targets for Karl Rove ] Unfortunate Headline: Obama's Rout Rejiggers the Race ] Using the Race Issue to Carve Up the Electorate ] Voting for devil you know ] Why Isn't Poverty an Issue? ] When is a Bargain a Challenge ] GOP fears charges of racism, sexism ] Fox Attacks Black America ] Bill Clinton talks of race and politics ] Walking on Eggshells ] The New Black ] 'Barack Hussein Obama' an all-American name ] Ferraro's Affirmative Action Offense ] Ferraro puts her foot in her mouth ] Voters try to look beyond race when picking candidates ] Pride, Patriotism and Black Americans ]
Child Level:
Home ] Up ]
Parent Level:
What is Institutional Racism? ] Institutional Racism in America ] January 2008 Articles ] March 2008 Articles ] Racial Inequality in America ] February 2008 Articles ]
[Race and Racial Groups] [Citizenship Rights]  [Justice and Race] [Patterns of Basic Needs] [Intersectionality Issues] [Human Rights]

Always Under Construction!

Always Under Construction!

Copyright @ 2008
Vernellia Randall. All Rights Reserved

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, some material on this website is provided for comment, background information, research and/or educational purposes only, without permission from the copyright owner(s), under the "fair use" provisions of the federal copyright laws. These materials may not be distributed for other purposes without permission of the copyright owner(s).


Last Updated:
Tuesday, April 07, 2009  

You are visitor number
Hit Counter  
Since January 9, 2008