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by Mikhail Lyubansky

This is heresy I know, since most of the white majority likes to pretend that it’s colorblind, but race needs to be part of the calculus in the November election for all voters. Of course, it was never not going to be part of the equation. And race is certainly part of the explicit discourse for Black voters, as it always is. My point is that it's high time white folks join in the discussion and acknowledge that it matters. Because it does.

Here’s what’s at stake in November: For the first time in history, there is a real possibility that "The Man" won’t be White. The implications will take years to sort out, but here are some very early thoughts about why the candidate’s race is important enough to influence our vote. Because the implications of a Black President are somewhat different for different identity groups, I break it down accordingly. But, and make no mistake about this, all other things being equal, having a Black President would benefit all Americans -- well almost.

For self-identified racists, I'm afraid little would change. Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that when new information contradicts our deeply held beliefs, we find reason to discount the information, rather than change our beliefs. Thus, for self-identified racists, an Obama victory would be just another sign that our country is in trouble and that its citizens are deluded -- even a possible sign ofArmageddon. In some ways, this group will be least affected, so let me move on.

For most of the White majority (the majority of the majority, if you’re keeping score at home), having a person of color in the White House would be nothing short of liberating. After decades of learning about the history of (white) racism, being explicitly and implicitly blamed for contemporary racial inequities in education, income, and other important outcomes, and, more generally, living in fear of the R-word, well-intentioned White Americans would finally have a ready response: The most powerful person in the country – "The Man" – is Black. How do you like them apples?

Personal relief from guilt and shame is really not a good enough reason to consider race in electoral politics, but I’m talking about collective and institutional relief too. A Black President doesn’t solve all of our racial problems, but it is a litmus test of sorts. It means American society is ready for a non-White President. What a liberating idea.

For many poor Whites, a Black President would shatter the myth of superiority – the belief that they rate higher on some imaginary social hierarchy than people of color on the basis of their whiteness. Throughout America’s history, poor white people could take comfort in the knowledge that their President, like them, was White, and by virtue of his Whiteness, could understand them and relate to them, despite the usually formidable differences in income and wealth. With Obama in the White House, poor Whites would join the rest of the disenfranchised poor in believing that their President doesn’t understand them, can’t relate to them, and, for the skeptically inclined, doesn’t care about them. I’m not saying Obama wouldn’t understand, relate, or care. To the contrary, I believe he’d do all three better than most of his predecessors. But this would be the common perception among the White poor. Think Kanye West in reverse.

How is this good? Because it would shake up the traditional race-based alliances. Poor whites have often supported a conservative agenda (and, by extension, conservative politicians) under the mistaken belief that they have something in common with the White elite and that this White elite is concerned about their well-being. In contrast poor Blacks have tended to be skeptical and distrustful of White leadership – a fact not lost on the white majority. A Black President would challenge both world-views. The result may well be a more reality-based and class-based (rather than race-based) division of attitudes. For anyone who wants to live in a society in which race matters less, this would be progress.

For the Black working class, Obama, like any person in power, would bring disappointment, but he’d also bring real hope. For some, he would also bring back the American Dream, the belief that anyone has a shot at the good life, and that hard work raises the probability. In many Black families, this Dream has long been abandoned, replaced by the hopeless belief that the world cares little about people like them and that the white majority wants nothing more than to keep them in their place. Never mind whether or not this has been true up to now, President Obama would be viable proof that White Americans are able to see beyond race and willing to be represented and led by a person of color. And then there is this: For the first time, we would have a President who actually knows what it’s like to be Black in America. Bill Clinton was supposed to be our first Black President, and he did indeed seem like he was more comfortable around Black people than any previous occupant of the Oval Office, but Obama is the real McCoy. Like Clinton, he too will at some point sign legislation that will disappoint some working-class Black Americans. That’s how politics work, no matter who is in office. But if you believe the American Indian adage that one should never judge (or criticize) another until one walks a mile in his moccasins, then Obama would be the first President to be able to both truly empathize and relate to African Americans and, at the same time, have the moral authority to stake out a position that is not obviously pro-Black. On the surface, this may not seem like something that would be in the best interest of the Black working-class, but I suggest otherwise. A combination of empathy and political freedom offers unprecedented opportunity for real social change. I’m honestly not sure what it will look like, but for the first time, I have hope that it’s possible.

For anti-racism activists, hope and disappointment are also likely, but so is ambivalence and at least a bit of confusion. An Obama victory won’t signal the end of racism, but it will signal something. Social policies, including affirmative action, can only be evaluated within a specific social context. An Obama victory would substantially alter this context. What does it mean to argue that members of a particular racial group are disadvantaged or disenfranchised, when a member of that same group holds the most powerful office in the country? To be sure, statistics documenting significant race-group differences in education, income, and incarceration rates would not be noticeably different under Obama (at least not at first), nor would the educational and criminal justice institutions. But a Black person in power has to change something. I predict turmoil, ambivalence, creativity, and heated debate. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

Originally posted to lyubansky on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 08:55 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good piece... (5+ / 0-)

    ... I wrote something along similar lines, albeit not as eloquent... http://www.dailykos.com/...

    "You are probably not that good a rapper. Maybe you are the next Lil' Wayne, but probably not, in which case you need to stay in school." ~Barack Obama~

    by mobilio316 on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 08:58:20 AM PDT

    •  Good diary... (11+ / 0-)

      For me (middle class AA) nothing will change.  I will be VERY VERY proud if he should be elected.  Obviously I would cry and cry upon his victory.  

      However, once the dust settles HE, just like the rest of the working class AA community knows will have to work 3x/5x harder to prove he deserved the job.

      It just like corporate America, if you're up for a promotion against a white co-worker (with equal education and work experience) you're more than likely going to have to do triple duty to stay in contention for the promotion.  Though you won't get the job, you have to go ABOVE AND WAYYYYYY BEYOND to show them they made the wrong choice. You get mad as hell, cry and walk it off, then start looking for a new job in another division of the company or leave the company all together.

      I don't expect and no AA should expect Obama to do any special favors for the AA community. (That's a secret message to Jessie Jackson and his ilk)

      My hope for Obama is for him to be the BEST DAMN PRESIDENT this country has ever had PERIOD!!!!

      John McCain said what?! Once again he has proven to be out of touch, lacks sound judgement and is unfit to be President.

      by Moxie Gurl on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:28:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't expect (8+ / 0-)

        Obama to magically destroy racism. I don't expect his presidency to dispel any personally-held stereotypes on Day One. I do expect that he will do what he has been doing: showing the people of America that it's not about the color of your skin, but the content of your character. Lyubansky, I hope you will understand the depth of my compliment when I say I wish I had written this diary. Moxie Gurl, I can't right those wrongs, but I promise to fight as hard as I can to make sure they don't ever happen to anyone else ever again. yes we can.

        I've always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew, and then chew it. -William DeMille

        by Kordo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:39:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you're absolutely right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, trivium

        change won't come immediately, but it may well be that having a black president will grease the wheels toward equality. A barrier broken makes it that much more difficult to go back again. I suspect that most people, particularly youth, will learn to forget about race and just see the person.

        I can haz sound economic policy?

        by Isara on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:10:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Was this published anywhere? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah

    If so where?

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 08:59:56 AM PDT

    •  First Diary, Evidently No Comments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, boofdah

      Bio says he writes so it'll be interesting to see if he participates here or just drops by to republish, which unfortunately the site allows.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:03:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes...obviously many places, he is just a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, boofdah, alexnovo

      drive by blogger. Don't expect any responses to comments. I got tired of coping, but here are the 1st 3, of many, that I saw:

      HERE AND HERE AND HERE

      If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

      by TKH on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:00:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He is a Psych professor at UIUC (0+ / 0-)

        Who claims to actually be interested in racial justice.
        If he really is, one would think he would've chosen to make more of an
        actual contribution to that cause, as opposed to settling for "I predict heated debate" and "I can't wait to see how it all shakes out".   How educated white people of good will choose to strike their blows will very much have an effect on how it all shakes out, and he whiffed here.

        Of course, he didn't whiff nearly as BADLY as the renowned black author of
        Middle Passage did
        here:
        http://www.theamericanscholar.org/...
        I am in utter shock that an actual black intellectual can be alleging that we need a "post-victimization" narrative simply because we are having so much success that that narrative is no longer credible.   THAT IS IDIOTIC.
        What we are seeing now is the success of the generation of black people that got to benefit from the Carter and Clinton administrations.  The Reagan and both Bush administrations also greatly CONTINUED the relevant mode of victimization and that is VERY loudly PROVED by persistent DISPARITIES in academic achievement, income, incarceration, health/death, AD NAUSEAM.  Individual stories of success and achievement are JUST THAT: INDIVIDUAL, and they DON'T make much of a dent in these trends, MANY OF WHICH ARE GETTING WORSE, especially resegregation of schools and the wealth gap.

        "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

        by ge0rge on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:30:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  guilty as charged (9+ / 0-)

          He is a Psych professor at UIUC Who claims to actually be interested in racial justice. If he really is, one would think he would've chosen to make more of an actual contribution to that cause, as opposed to settling for "I predict heated debate" and "I can't wait to see how it all shakes out".

          I guess that was a bit of a "cop out" ending.  Thanks for calling me on it.  I'd like to think there was an actual contribution prior to that though.  In any case,  this was intended as a start and "food for thought."  I certainly have more to say and promise to do so on a regular basis.

          •  It's great to see you participating (4+ / 0-)

            in the give and take. You may find that it leads to new insights and new ways of looking at your ideas.
            Given the quality of your diary, it would be great if the DailyKos community could be helpful in leveraging your ideas even further.
            All the best, and thanks for posting the diary.

            Another Democrat against McCain

            by NWSteve on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:02:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes...obviously many places, he is just (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc

            a drive by blogger

            Sorry about that. Kos is a popular place to post and we have many authors who cross post here just to be heard, but never actually participate in the discussion of their piece.

            Thanks for stopping by. Your diary was excellent. Your unique perspective on race relations in this country will make a great addition to this site.  

            If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

            by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 05:43:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You do realize... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BDsTrinity

          ...that overuse of the CAPS LOCK, Latin, and the last 4 things you reviewed in Sociology 101 makes you sound kinda, well, douchey? Not trying to rag on you, I see a glimmer of a point in there, but maybe not so much espresso before hittin the post button, eh?

          I've always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew, and then chew it. -William DeMille

          by Kordo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:52:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Of course it will be part of the discussion but (5+ / 0-)

    if you are white, it shouldn't be part of the decision to either vote for, or against, him. But, of course, for some it is. I'm voting for him for one simple reason. I believe he offers the best hope this country has of surviving the next 8 years and will hopefully put us on a path to survive the next 50.

    If I were black, I would vote for him regardless of his beliefs unless they were extremely radical. Black folks have lived with Racism, Segregation, and Descrimination for hundreds of years. Barack offers hope for their future far beyond the political issues of the day. In our nation's entire history there has never been a black mother who could look at her son or daughter and say, "work hard and someday you can grow up to become the president of the United States". Now there is. The limits have been taken off.

    There are racists everywhere but there are not nearly as many, nor are they as previlent, as they once were. Barack's popularity proves that. The percentage break down is incouraging. A large marjority of the younger people are voting for Barack and a large part of McSame's voters are older. This tells me that color is much less of a factor for the young and that they are generally color blind. This bodes well for the future of our nation.

    If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

    by TKH on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:20:07 AM PDT

    •  Modern racism (11+ / 0-)

      There are racists everywhere but there are not nearly as many, nor are they as previlent, as they once were. Barack's popularity proves that. The percentage break down is incouraging. A large marjority of the younger people are voting for Barack and a large part of McSame's voters are older. This tells me that color is much less of a factor for the young and that they are generally color blind. This bodes well for the future of our nation.

      As a college professor who teaches a class on race, I get a chance to hear how young people think about race and racial issues on a regular basis (my students are required to submit weekly journals).  Like many groups, today's young people are to diverse to be characterized in any single particular way.  By and large, I see three different groups of white students in my class.

      One group grew up in a racially isolated (either suburban or rural) environment and has never had any personal meaningful interactions with people of color.  All they know about race, they learned from pop culture or their friends and parents.  Some were taught that race doesn't matter and they present themselves accordingly, without having any understanding of how race continues to effect people's daily lives.  
      Many of them, as you say, insist that "color" is not an issue for them and plays no role in their lives.  

      Others learned racism at home (and in the media) and endorse a variety of typical racial stereotypes, usually about African Americans.  

      Then there's a third group, one that actually has had some real interactions with people of color and have somehow engaged in learning about how race operates in the 21st century.  This group tends to acknowledge that racism exists, both interpersonal and institutional.  They are well-intentioned, but are still struggling to understand their role (as white individuals) is in working toward racial justice.  I hope that by the end of the semester, there are more students in this last group than at the beginning of the semester.  But at the start, this is probably the smallest group

      •  Change is not easy, but it does happen. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trivium, BDsTrinity, lyubansky

        I graduated from a high school in the deep south in 1966. We were desegragated in 1964. That is the year I will never forget..It changed my life.

        I don't normally talk about this because it brings back bad memories, embarrassment , and a deep regret.

        I was one of the kids standing in the crowd yelling racial slurs as 2 young black kids were the 1st to desegregate our school. They were escorted by police to and from class for 2 years. There was constant venom and hate against 2 people that no one even knew, or cared to know. Their skin color was all that mattered.

        Through 2 years they suffered the rath of a bunch of racist, but most of us were just following along without actually thinking. That is not an excuse, just a fact.

        I can't exactly remember when the change occured in me, but it did. Instead of two black kids, I began to see two of the bravest people I have ever known. I do not believe there were many rednecks in that crowd who could have endured what those two went through for 2 years, with nearly as much grace and dignity. Through it all, they did not complain or cave in.

        They both graduated with honors. I have since tried to find them to appologize, but with no success. I know their names, but I don't think mentioning them here is appropriate. I had many friends in high school, but for the life of me can't remember many of their names, but I will never forget the names of the 2 bravest people I've ever known.

        They taught me a lesson that actually made the  social conscience part of me, who I am. I just wish I could see them to say, I'm sorry.

        It was never a subject brought up at home. If so I don't remember it. If I was taught, it was by peers and the culture of the time. I guess it was just fear of change and difference.

        I never really knew any black people before that time. If you are from the south, you know that blacks were segregated to a particular part of town and went to their own (unequal) schools. Therefore association, even casual, was uncommon.

        But I've often wondered how many of those young, would be, racists I knew back then learned the same lesson I did, and how it changed their lives as it has mine.

        Whether those 2 black kids knew it or not, they positively affected many peoples lives. I am sure there are a lot of people who owe them a "thanks" and I am sure we all owe them an "I'm so sorry".

        If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

        by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 04:54:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Racism (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TKH, BDsTrinity

          I grew up in completely segregated, highly racist Atlanta and graduated from high school in 1948. I went off to comploetely segregated, highly racist Princeton. My five best friends in HS were racially progressive, and often ragged the most outspoken racist kid. We had no real distance to travel, but our racist fellow student was educated mostly in the South, became a physician, and showed little change in his racial attitudes. I then went into the highly segregated , racist Marine Corps, and observed, and resisted, over the next 8 years some real racist brutality. In my opinion, most institutions only change in response to powerful, unrelenting external pressure. Individuals, however, are capable of growth, such as you have shown so brilliantly. I believe that there is an irreversible growth in the direction of greater democracy, human rights, and civil liberties, and has been since the Protestant Reformation which directly contributed to the birth of our country, and the English and Scottish Enlightenments which contributed to the  securalization and and egalitarianism which made early US so much more progressive than the Puritans and Southern gentlemen could ever be. The principal lesson of American history, I think, is not that racism is immutable, but that massive intervention by outsiders and a great deal of luck is necessary to cause radical and cataclysmic change. The failure of Reconstruction to change Southern racism was due primarily to the disputed 1876 presidential election. The retreat from racial equality by law established by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1873 could only have been stopped by the bayonet on the rifles of federal troops occupying the former Confederacy.
          Had it  not been for Truman, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP these acts would never have been enforced or reenacted. Martin Luther King Jr and his colleagues were fighting battles that had been won and lost 90 years earlier. But without Earl Warren and the liberal Justices Douglas, Black, and a few others, even those battles might not have been won, and they needed reinforcements which many students and teachers, black and white, provided. Since the 1950's enforcement has been slow and begrudging, but few doubted that, in time, a complete victory in the war for racial equality would be won. Education and experience (which are the same process) can make those changes come about. You were deprived, I assume, of my very good fortune in being raised by lifelong left-wing Democrats who actually believed, and lived racial equality. I, and my brother and sister, never forgot for a moment the lessons learned at home where there were many multiracial friends and students. You had a much harder education than I. I don't believe we will ever back down. More and more people are making recent advances permanent and are laying stepping stones to higher levels of interfracial comity and love.
          Obama, lest we forget, is biracial, and his family is multi-racial. He grew up in Hawaii, where the struggle for racial justice has been won. There is still discrimination, but culturally and politically, this State has overcome and largely forgotten its past of racial injustice. I don't think there is anywhere else in this country where Obama could have lived and learned racial Aloha as he did here.

          •  I live in ATL now, but am originally (0+ / 0-)

            from S.C. Another commentor in another thread said:

            OR ANY former confederate state (where racism remains endemic).

            I immediately jumped on that. It has been my experience that forced desegregation may have been the best thing to ever happen to the south. Here is my comment to his post:

            I am from the south and have seen racism first hand all the my life. In the 60's desegregation was forced down our throats. At the time that pissed me off, but in retrospect I understand that that was the best thing that ever happened to us.

            Unlike many northern states where racism has just been silently tolerated, we were forced to face our demons and not only learned to live with them, but  work together with those of other races. I would venture to say that there is more racism in many northern states than in many southern states.

            Forced or otherwise, MOST people in the south have learned that difference is good thing and not only accepts, but embrace race differences. YES...it still exists. There will always be racists regardless of where you are, but I disagree that the south is more racist than any other part of the country.

            If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

            by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 07:09:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Please make this comment a diary. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TKH

          And please consider naming the two brave children who had to endure what for the rest of us is almost unimaginable torment, because kids want nothing more than to be accepted, and nothing is worse than blind, hate-filled, total rejection.

          I believe if you published the names, you would not be doing a disservice or invading anyone's privacy.  You would not be revealing anything that was not public knowledge at the time.  You would not be disclosing something shameful, or something intensely private.  Those two are heroes in a long struggle, and they deserve recognition.  If you publish the names, I'd be willing to bet someone, somewhere will be able to connect some dots and put you in contact.  And even after the passage of so many years, I'm sure your words would be welcome, and might help to heal some wounds inflicted long ago -- wounds that, from your post, I sense were not inflicted on them alone.

          •  I appreciate your sentiment, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trivium

            I do not want this spread wider than this comment thread. It was hard enough writing it here...thanks

            If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

            by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 09:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  What about the effect upon other communities? (6+ / 0-)

    Such as other ethnic and racial minorities, the african american middle and upper class, women, gays etc.  I think that while the diary makes some points, it fails to see the complexity of U.S. race relations.  Also the description of poor whites lumps them together in a way that is not justified.  The white working class is huge and is not monolithic.  

    I will say that I believe that having Obama elected will take the begin a new era in U.S. race relations (but it will not) solve the problems (in this I agree with the diarist).  The interesting question is, however, will this result in a significant change for most people.  It is my suspicion that the powers that be (the corporate elite) have largely moved beyond a racial divide and see the world separated by social class - the haves versus the have nots - in this view most of the "haves" are white - but not all of them.  This is the reality today, and for this group, the election of Obama itself will change nothing.  The question remains is will Obama and the Congress take action to change the disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots."  I hope and think that Obama will make progress on this front.  It will be that progress that will change the nation, much more than the falling of a racial glass ceiling.

    Non, je ne regrette rien

    by alexnovo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:29:15 AM PDT

    •  In my simple mind there is an even simplier (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AyersTeach, jennyL

      indication of how race relations are going now, and will go in the future. True...it is a complex issue, but most of the work has already been done for us and it is now simply a matter of interpretation.

      The demographics of Barack and McSame voters tells the story of future race relations in this country. A large percentage of those voting for Barack are younger than 30. Those in their middle years are a toss up, and those over 50 or so are more likely to vote for McCain.

      This seems to say that regardless of the demographics the overall picture for the reduction of racism is looking better than it ever has and will only get better in the future.  

      If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

      by TKH on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:40:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skrekk, TKH

        but would point out that those demographics would be pretty much the same if Edwards was the nominee - in other words the age breakdowns reflect more than just race.

        Non, je ne regrette rien

        by alexnovo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:43:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Age and voting behavior (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boofdah, ER Doc, TKH, BDsTrinity, Emalene

        The demographics of Barack and McSame voters tells the story of future race relations in this country. A large percentage of those voting for Barack are younger than 30. Those in their middle years are a toss up, and those over 50 or so are more likely to vote for McCain.

        Interesting point.  I wonder if the same is typically true of Presidential elections.  That is, I wonder whether younger people tend to vote for the Democratic candidate, regardless, and this trend is just repeating as usual in this election.  I have to look this up...

        •  Iyubansky (6+ / 0-)

          I think you have just answered your own question -- i.e. the filter of race itself is only a partial explicator of the dynamics shaping this presidential election. in some ways the filter of race and racism may be obscuring other more fruitful variables. To the extent that you can easily identify certain demographics and project conventional wisdom about their attitudes towards race, you will get the predictable outcome you laid out in your diary.

          1)For example, Yes, working class white voters (not a monolithic group mind you) may vote for McCain. And the explanation would be attributable to racism and irrationally acting against their own class interests (i.e. siding with elite whites etc.) In fact these voters themselves may confirm that race influenced their vote if they are polled. But that does not explain why a similar percentage of these working class voters did not vote for John Kerry or Al Gore. It is the same behavior of not voting for the Democrat but the reason for not doing so in Obama's case is easily attributable to Race. Right there, the explanation for voting preferences is premised on a fallacy. If you change around the players, this time substituting working class white voters with black voters you are faced with the same problem. In 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 black voters voted overwhelmingly (85 - 90% range) for Clinton, Gore and Kerry. This year if they vote for Obama by the same margins, we attribute it to racial pride. This may well be the case in many instances but it does not tell us why they voted for Clinton, Gore, Kerry. One of the ironies is that in 200, & 2004 during the primaries, Kerry received more than 80 - 90% of the black vote in many southern and mid-Atlantic states despite the presence of Al Sharpton. So race is a real social construct alright but I find it an elusive shorthand for capturing complex behaviors post facto.

          1. Another point I'd like to make is that remember that most African Americans did not back him until the Iowa win, after which he became the "racialized" black candidate. Obama was not supported by a wide section of the ideological /Civil Rights black intelligentsia. In other words, as they say in Chicago political circles, "nobody talks to nobody that nobody sent." Obama has consistently eked out his own fortunes (not in a cheesy pull-himself-up-by-his-boots-strap Booker T Washington way). As a consummate pragmatist-idealist, Obama recognizes his race as social fact because that is how this society categorizes him, and would play a part in constraining his choices. But from his own writings and his life, he does not hitch his existential core, and self-definition to race. That is what many African Americans and others may come to find frustrating because he will not fight those ideological battles surrounding race.

          "Scandals don't stay underground like cassava: they always come out" -- Ewe Proverb

          by zizi on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:59:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The corporate powers that be... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hooper, deepeco, smileycreek, jennyL

      ...are now treating the white working class SO BADLY that they might as well be the new n-words.  The white working class is (as usual) not reacting rationally to   this.  Seeing the erosion of their standard of living just makes them want to cling to race privilege all the more, even while mouthing the rituals of denial that it even exists.  The wages of whiteness look MORE attractive when the real wages are falling -- UNLESS you have sense enough to know who's exploiting whom.

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:32:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some good points here (10+ / 0-)

    But I'd counter-argue that Obama isn't really "black" in the sense of Samuel L. Jackson black, but rather black in the mode of Tiger Woods. Which is what you would expect in a viable candidate.

    White golfers, for example, didn't throw away their gear when Tiger won the Masters for the first time, nor did they particularly change their thoughts about barring black members from country clubs, either. The difference, as history suggests, is really economic. When a racial minority achieves financial parity with the majority (or just comes close) a lot of the former barriers dissolve.

    What's important here, then, isn't that Obama is black and has overcome racism - he hasn't. Rather, he has become wealthy and powerful. This isn't to gainsay the diarist, but to add to his remarks.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:29:21 AM PDT

    •  I think you have it right. (7+ / 0-)

      I love the comment about Tiger Woods.  I would say that the power structure of this nation is far less uncomfortable about race than it is class and wealth.  I venture to say that they would rather have Tiger in their club than they would a white "Archie Bunker" working class type - just as they would rather have a rich black man President than they would a a poor white labor leader.  

      Non, je ne regrette rien

      by alexnovo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:37:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  on Tiger and Obama (8+ / 0-)

      White golfers, for example, didn't throw away their gear when Tiger won the Masters for the first time, nor did they particularly change their thoughts about barring black members from country clubs, either.

      This is an excellent point.  People, even those who self-identify as racists, have always been willing to make exceptions -- not only for the wealthy or famous (as with Woods and Obama) but also for their own friends.  You'll hear this process in comments such as "You're not really [insert racial outgroup]" or "I don't see you as [insert racial outgroup]"

      An Obama victory won't change of this, as the many readers here have pointed out.  But I do see it as something meaningful.  As just another example of how Obama is changing the racial discourse, I refer you to how many African American leaders have publicly responded to Jesse Jackson's comments about Obama not being Black enough or "talking down to Black people"

      •  Something meaningful (8+ / 0-)

        Oh absolutely. If we manage to elect Obama, it's going to change a great many things, large and small, obvious and some completely unexpected. I still can't fully grasp the implications, but so far it appears that the world is hoping we make this choice.

        Let me take this opportunity to thank you for penning a thoughtful and courageous diary. This is a tough topic and many diarists flub the attempt. You made it look easy. Tip o' the wing.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 03:41:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Who corrected Jesse (0+ / 0-)

        His son, a Congressman from Chicago and a highly placed Obama campaign worker, criticized his father for his comments.

      •  So...in other words (0+ / 0-)

                           "Birds of a feather flock together"

        This simple phrase may be one of the most profound truisms ever spoken. It encompasses not only the totality of race relations but every other type of interaction and behavior that either seperate people, or bring them together.

        Everyone in this diary keeps dancing around the obvious answer to why Obama will be more accepted as president by many white people, whereas they wouldn't accept someone else, even if he was white.

        I believe it has more to do with personal comfort level than race. EVERYONE, regardless who we are tend to "hang" with those who most closely represent their own personal outlook on life.  

        I believe we inherently have a set of priorities that we subconsiously use to determine how we react to others. I honestly believe that if everyone was deaf and blind, we would still descriminate about who our friends are based upon how tall they are. We will always find something about others to use to satisfy our comfort level.

        EVERY ONE OF US PRACTICES DESCRIMINATION DAILY.

        Look at your friends, those people whose opinions you value. The person you married or date. It doesn't matter. Pick any association you have and you will find that it was formed because it most closely matches your own AT SOME LEVEL.

        Well anyway, mister psych professor, this is an entire dissertation unto itself, but still I believe it answers the question.

         

        If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

        by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 06:57:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aggie98

      about the Tiger Woods remark.
      Obama, despite his wealth and privilege, seems to love and embrace his Blackness, whereas TW seems ashamed, desperate to assimilate, wants nothing to do with Black people, and stakes great pains to express his non-Blackness.  I don't see them as being the same at all.

      "And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start, to mold a new reality, closer to the heart" - Rush

      by Maori on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:49:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Consider the source (0+ / 0-)

    The diarist, who has a Ph.D., is

     a clinical psychologist and a lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign....[with] personal and professional interests in immigration, racial/ethnic group relations and social justice.

    This makes him, unlike many who dared, actually qualified to comment.
    The whole white-ethnic angle is fascinating, frankly.
    As I trust he knows, white ethnic immigrants to America, from the Irish on, were typically initially demonized by nativism and therefore fought hard to BECOME white, often viewing themselves as (naturally, but unfortunately) antagonists rather than allies (versus nativists and eugenicists) of African-Americans.  If he is choosing to self-define as an ally then that is amazing (in a very good way) all by itself.

    That welcome said, we still have
    the problem that this site is basically a meta-media site.
    It critiques the way things are mis-represented in mainstream media,
    or discusses things that mainstream media are trying to ignore.
    It is NOT well-suited to ongoing dialogue about deeply-embedded
    issues that DON'T have a breaking story associated with them every week.

    It would be nice if the front page had, in addition to a list of
    "recommended" diaries and a list of "recent" diaries, a list of "race"/racism
    diaries.  Precisely because OUR candidate HAPPENS to be black, race is
    salient around HERE at least until December.   But in the absence of that,
    this would not be expected  to produce anything constructive here.

    This is heresy I know,

    Well, within some circles.   You yourself are going to explain WHY it isn't.

    since most of the white majority likes to pretend that it’s colorblind,

    The last time a national poll about it was publshed here on dKos, fully 3 out of 10 respondents admitted they were racists.
    It would only take 2/7 of the remainder (understanding that race MATTERS)
    to have the MAJORITY of whites be color-conscious.

    but race needs to be part of the calculus in the November election for all voters

    "All" voters??  New York, California, and Illinois are going for Obama.
    NOTHING needs to be part of any  calculus in those 3 states, except
    "Obama wins".  These are 3 of the biggest states in the union, containing
    the 3 largest cities in the nation.  There are plenty of other states where McCain is an equally strong lock, including some (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah)
    WITH NO BLACK PEOPLE, where any white Democrat would've been equally chanceless.  Race is going to be discussable in all of these places this year,  to greater degree than usual, simply because we are about to have a black president, but it absolutely will not be part of the electoral calculus for November in them.  THAT is ALL already over with, in SOME places.

    Of course, it was never not going to be part of the equation. And race is certainly part of the explicit discourse for Black voters, as it always is.

    *Exactly*.  This is what undercuts your claim above that bringing up the subject is somehow heretical.  EVERYBODY KNOWS that this subject is up.  This issue is active now.  EVEN in places where it canNOT perturb the electoral calculus, it still "wants" to be discussed.

    My point is that it's high time white folks join in the discussion

     Oh, come ON!
    The vast majority of them Are Not Competent to "discuss" JACK.
    If  you are, then that is  because you have made studying the subject your career.  Most white Americans have not invested your level of intellectual effort and therefore do NOT know what to THINK, LET ALONE say, especially if they are from a polity where there is racial tension (e.g. New York, Chicago, LA, Detroit), OR ANY former confederate state (where racism remains endemic).

    Race in America very much remains a subject where it would behoove white people in general to remember that IF God had wanted them to talk more than they listen, He would've given them 1 ear and 2 mouths.

    The only thing that even bears discussing here is this:

    *For most of the White majority* (the majority of the majority, if you’re keeping score at home), having a person of color in the White House would be nothing short of liberating. After decades of learning about the history of (white) racism, being explicitly and implicitly blamed for contemporary racial inequities in education, income, and other important outcomes, and, more generally, living in fear of the R-word, well-intentioned White Americans would finally have a ready response: The most powerful person in the country – "The Man" – is Black. How do you like them apples?

    Your characterization of these people as "well-intentioned" is entirely inaccurate.  Anybody who WOULD respond this way is proven BY this response to be a racist AND NOT  well-intentioned.
    As a professor, you might want to read a response from another professor:http://www.theamericanscholar.org/su08/narrative-johnson.html

    I realize this (black) man is a MacArthur Fellow and the winner of the National Book Award, but he is full of shit.
    He points out that in addition to President (still future when he was writing this), black men have already in the past been CEOs of Merrill-Lynch and American Express, and have been billionaires through TV (Bob Johnson via BET and Oprah Winfrey via her talk show).  He incredibly infers from this that we need a new narrative, that  we've had so much success that we can't just keep talking about ourselves as victims of slavery.

    He is out of his mind.

    ALL ANYbody has to do to know that OF COURSE the focus remains on victimization is to LOOK AT THE STATISTICAL DISPARITIES.   The individual stories he is talking about are just that: INDIVIDUALS.  They have NO significant effect on the median or on what is typical for black people.
    Indeed, it is precisely UP there at the billionaire level that the disparities remain MOST stark!  The fact that they are not as stark as they were 50 or 150 years ago does NOT mean it is ANYWHERE NEAR OK!  And the REASON why they remain stark IS that continued victimization (as well as the legacy of the past).

    Personal relief from guilt and shame is really not a good enough reason to consider race in electoral politics, but I’m talking about collective and institutional relief too. A Black President doesn’t solve all of our racial problems, but it is a litmus test of sorts. It means American society is ready for a non-White President. What a liberating idea.

    A good slogan can stop thought for 50 years.  A great one can stop it forever.
    What you are offering here is a good slogan.
    Fortunately for you, many (though not yet  most) white people can see that.  The election of Barack Obama is not going to magically cause the median net worth of black families to rise to 20% of that of white ones.
    It is not going to cause the majority of black boys to graduate from high school.  It is not going to change the fact that there are more black men in prison than in college.  All these trends are going to get better under a Democratic administration than they would under a Republican one, but in this case the fact that the Democrat is black COULD wind up actually SLOWING progress precisely because more centrist white people will feel, precisely as you predict "liberated" from the BURDEN of themselves personally DOING something about the disparities.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:24:26 AM PDT

    •  rae/racism diaries (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, Emalene

      It would be nice if the front page had, in addition to a list of "recommended" diaries and a list of "recent" diaries, a list of "race"/racism diaries.  Precisely because OUR candidate HAPPENS to be black, race is salient around HERE at least until December.   But in the absence of that, this would not be expected  to produce anything constructive here.

      Well, this certainly seems like a great idea to me, but I'm new here and still learning the ropes.  Is there a process a group could engage in to make this happen?

    •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

      Oh, come ON!
      The vast majority of them Are Not Competent to "discuss" JACK.
      If  you are, then that is  because you have made studying the subject your career.  Most white Americans have not invested your level of intellectual effort and therefore do NOT know what to THINK, LET ALONE say, especially if they are from a polity where there is racial tension (e.g. New York, Chicago, LA, Detroit), OR ANY former confederate state (where racism remains endemic).

      Race in America very much remains a subject where it would behoove white people in general to remember that IF God had wanted them to talk more than they listen, He would've given them 1 ear and 2 mouths.

      So, in your opinion, only non-white people can have an opinion on race in America?

      Some dialogue that will be, then.

      •  He didn't say all (0+ / 0-)

        white people aren't competent and he used the diarist as an example of one who is qualified.  

      •  BULL !!! (0+ / 0-)

        OR ANY former confederate state (where racism remains endemic).

        I am from the south and have seen first hand racism all the my life. In the 60's desegregation was forced down our throats. At the time that pissed me off, but in retrospect I understand that that was the best thing that ever happened to us.

        Unlike many northern states where racism has just been silently tolerated, we were forced to face our demons and not only learned to live with them, but  work together with those of other races. I would venture to say that there is more racism in many northern states than in many souther states.

        Forced or otherwise, MOST people in the south have learned that difference is good thing and not only accepts, but embrace race differences. YES...it still exists. There will always be racists regardless of where you are, but I disagree that the south is more racist than any other part of the country.

        If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

        by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 05:24:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you can't argue with the election returns (0+ / 0-)

          Unlike many northern states where racism has just been silently tolerated, we were forced to face our demons and not only learned to live with them, but  work together with those of other races. I would venture to say that there is more racism in many northern states than in many southern states.

          I went to high school in Massachusetts in the mid-70s so I realize it got plenty bad in Boston (I was fortunately in private school
          30mi. up the road).  The reality is bifurcated and strange.  I am from Raleigh.
          Jesse Helms' grave and my birthplace are less than a football field apart.
          And just because people go to the same school or workplace does NOT mean there is any actual respect.  There are plenty of decent white people down here.
          But they are in the minority among white people.
          This is NOT a matter of opinion.
          ELECTIONS HAPPEN.
          2 out of 3 white men in this state voted for Jesse Helms ALL 5 TIMES,
          basically.  This means that the other 1/3 didn't.  This means that over
          33% of the white men in North Carolina GET IT.  This is not enough to
          beat Jesse Helms but it IS enough to create a vibrant black middle class
          here and to give us considerably better state-sponsored education than
          Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina,  where, if you got
          33% of the white voters to vote Democratic, it would be a complete earthquake.  I am VERY grateful AS a North Carolinian for the likes of
          Terry Sanford, Frank Porter Graham, Jim Hunt, and John Edwards,
          as well as for the next generation of women leaders that that tradition
          is producing (we are running white women for 7 statewide offices this year,
          including Governor, US Senator, Sec.of State, Labor Commissioner, Supt.of
          Public Instruction, Auditor & Treasurer, and we already have an incumbent
          white woman as Chief Justice).  But it is the EXCEPTION and NOT the rule when ANY Democratic statewide candidate gets the MAJORITY of white voters here.

          Forced or otherwise, MOST people in the south have learned that difference is good thing and not only accepts, but embrace race differences.

           Most PEOPLE, yes.   Most WHITE people, NO.
          Indeed, to the exent that all the states of the Deep South currently have
          2 Republican Senators and have gone Republican for president every year since 1976, it is OBSERVABLE FACT that most white southerners are still
          racists.
          You will KNOW you have changed WHEN you start going Democratic,
          AND NOT before.
          Shit, these states are AMONG THE VERY poorest in the union and would have the MOST to gain from pro-working-class tax policy and health insurance.   Yet they are the MOST reliably Republican at the federal level:WHY are these voters doing this?!??  Because bigotry IS STRONG, THAT'S why.
          Democrats can't even get 18% of the white vote in Mississippi right now.
          They're still poor BECAUSE they're STILL hateful.

          "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

          by ge0rge on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 11:51:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is also the bible belt and religion is (0+ / 0-)

            a large portion of many folks lives. I believe that religion and other social issues, even more than race, drove many southerners to the Republican party.

            I am not going to dispute your numbers because I have no clue what they actually are. Even if your numbers are correct, you are making a long stretch to assume that they became Republican because they are racists. That is your opinion, not a proven fact. I still do not believe that the South is more racist than any other part of the country.

            I was raised on a mill hill. Both my parents worked in a cotton mill all their lives. We were poor and most of my friends from that period were poor also. Now..is not then, and those that I still see are not racists.

            I am connected to both sides of the economic fense. Even though I do know a few blantant racists, they are in the minority. Most people I meet and have a casual relationship with are not overt racists either, therefore I can't accept your premise that 2/3rds of every white person down here are racists.

            PS: I am from SC, but lived and worked in Charlotte for years. I know all about Jesse Helms. He was a racist pig, but that still is not proof that those who voted for him did so just because of race. Of course many did, but that was then..things have changed greatly in the past 20 years.

            If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

            by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 05:07:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  WHAT religion?? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              alexnovo

              This is also the bible belt and religion is
              a large portion of many folks lives. I believe that religion and other social issues, even more than race, drove many southerners to the Republican party.

               Not if it was the Christian religion.
              I am gay, too, you know (well, you didn't, but you do now).  There is nothing Christian about hate.  More to the point, there is nothing Christian about rich-people-first/devil-take-the-hindmost ECONOMIC policy EITHER.  See also
              my relevant diary.

              I was raised on a mill hill. Both my parents worked in a cotton mill all their lives. We were poor and most of my friends from that period were poor also. Now..is not then, and those that I still see are not racists.

              John Edwards' father worked in a mill all his life, too, yet John Edwards could not be bothered to vote against Jesse Helms UNTIL he was running against him.  This was some SERIOUS negligence.   I am not sure you know a racist when you see one, frankly.  A racist is somebody who is trying to oppress black people (just for being black).  That means ABSOLUTELY EVERYbody who votes for Jesse Helms QUALIFIES, BY DEFINITION.  It does not matter WHY they decided to become Republicans, and indeed, MANY OF THEM didn't: if Jesse only got Republican votes then HE WOULD NEVER WIN:  Plenty of longtime diehard DEMOCRATS kept voting for Jesse.

              Most people I meet and have a casual relationship with are not overt racists either, therefore I can't accept your premise that 2/3rds of every white person down here are racists.

              You CAN'T ARGUE with their VOTES!
              It DOESN'T MATTER whether they are or aren't "overt" (though many of them are).  What DOES matter is HOW THEY VOTE!  A voter who calls most black people he knows "nigger" and votes Democratic is HELPING black people almost as much as a person who invites black people into his home BUT THEN VOTES REPUBLICAN is hurting us!   You DON'T know what racism IS if you think it is about what is "overt"!   It is about NATIONAL and state GOVERNMENTAL policy, because THAT affects MILLIONS!  How you treat people in your own social circle ONLY affects your own social circle!   Therefore it DOESN'T count!  Your vote COUNTS!

              I know all about Jesse Helms. He was a racist pig, but that still is not proof that those who voted for him did so just because of race.

              I didn't say that!  It DOES NOT MATTER why they did it!
              ALL their reasons STILL FAIL to absolve them of the charge of being racists!
              IF THEY VOTED FOR JESSE HELMS, then THAT ACT was racist and that makes them racists!  How nice they are to black people on a personal level does NOT count.  That nicety does NOT UNDO all the thwarted judicial appointments and policy filibusters that, I repeat, damage the lives OF MILLIONS.

              "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

              by ge0rge on Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 11:22:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Are any other black people responding to this? (0+ / 0-)

    I would very seriously like to see black members of this community responding
    to this:
    http://www.theamericanscholar.org/...

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:34:18 AM PDT

  •  Would have loved to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Isara

    see you discuss past the typical racial groups. All we talk about is black and white, but racial identities are far more comlpex, and talkig about them just in terms of black and white doesn't really do it any justice.

    •  that hit me, too, but... (0+ / 0-)

      The major racial tension for the past 200 years has been white vs. black. So it's interesting to focus only on those two segments of the population, before trying to add in all of the various colors of America.

      Regardless, I would be interested to know how Hispanic groups are responding to the idea of a "black" president? (sorry for the quotes. I hate referring to him as black, since he seems so post-racial to me) I know that there has been some movement Obama's way by Hispanics, but my understanding is that that is based more on policy and less on race.

      Asian populations are considered so well-integrated into American society (whether they actually are or not), that you never hear that side of the story either.

      I can haz sound economic policy?

      by Isara on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:05:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not only would a black president be good for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    714day, Emalene

    the country, but a democratic Attorney General John Edwards would also be helpful to all races and all income levels.  I do have hope, I know the next two years will be very difficult for a new administration, but it will also be exhilarating for us activists.  After Netroots Nation and seeing those Texans all fired up and ready to go, I came home with more energy and more fired up too.  

    When I have an opinion, it may be found here

    by walkabout on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:03:27 PM PDT

  •  One thing that interests me about Barack (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Tea, alexnovo

    Is how he talks about changing affirmative action to reflect differences in class and economics rather than race.

    That makes sense to this 51 year old white gal, who DID get a college scholarship based on economic disadvantage.

    "It was involuntary. They sank my boat." John F. Kennedy, on being a war hero.

    by smileycreek on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 09:35:24 PM PDT

  •  Something has changed in America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepeco

    when we can have a black presidential candidate and the big issue being raised isn't the color of his skin, but his Muslim name.

    •  The only way to prove that... (0+ / 0-)

      is to find a white candidate and see what happens with HIS Muslim name.
      The Barack Obamas Jr. and Sr. are not party to the 400-year race-war
      in THIS country.  That does actually matter, you know.  One could even go so far as to say that anybody who was coming up from slavery HERE really COULDN'T have achieved this.  THAT has NOT changed.

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 11:02:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am a person of color (8+ / 0-)

    but I don't expect the O-man to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Or to stop bullets. What I expect him and Congress to do is FIX the economy; restore our standing in the world and balance in our society. You know the normal stuff a President can do!

    If he is able to do that in one term or two, I would be happy. As to the other stuff (e.g. like solving racism), sorry folks BUT we have to do the heavy lifting!

  •  Lyubansky (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Tea, tobendaro

    What an agitating diary.  How delightful it is.  (I see shake-ups as healthy in some cases.  Constructive, even.)
    This is such the prickly topic, no matter how one might try to avoid that.  The suggestion that "prickly" alters with the expanding universe is a thread that, nonetheless, repeats itself throughout your post.  (With regard to a more inclusive notion of kin rather than other, that isn't so bad, either.  Your mention of younger perspectives being broader, might be considered some evidence)
    Latent prejudices, like latent homophobias, latent xenophopias and so on, do better with sunshine and air.
    This, I think, is a topic brought forward in the collective psyche of the nation simply because Obama has become "The Man," as you say.  Something different rises to the surface because of it; something otherwise left in a more remote location.  That vaguely ramped up energy (at least) is often transfered to Obama himself.
    I can't help but think, "Poor guy."
    The dude is a human being.  He, surely without fully comprehending it, has become a crucible of SO MUCH.  
    Of course, he is a remarkably able and brilliant individual.
    Even if it weren't for the socially symbolic vessel he has become to his countrypeople [xenophobic] and the global village, I wouldn't want to have to walk where he's going.  He's stepping into Dick Cheney's aftermath and residue.  

    •  Wow, yer higher than I am! (0+ / 0-)

       That was frakkin beautiful! I barely understood it, I'm still parsing it, but wot a stream of consciousness.

      I've always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew, and then chew it. -William DeMille

      by Kordo on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:09:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can you share whats in your pipe? (0+ / 0-)

        Stream of consciousness is all I do, I wish "high" had everything to do with it.  Writing ain't my thing.
        However, you've given me an idea; when people ask me what I'm going on about, I'll just tell them I'm on what Kordo uses.
        They might not believe me.  I'm an OLD hippie. (Even though I'm a CUTE old person.)

  •  Just keep in mind (0+ / 0-)

    that Obama has had to make an effort to understand what it is like to be Black in the way that people who are descendants of those enslaved know instinctively.

  •  Someone made a sarcastic (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, ER Doc, TKH, aggie98

    remark in the cafeteria the other day about how nothing will change for the AA's if Obama becomes president no matter how much they think it will.

    Me, being old enough to remember responded:

    I remember sitting in a cafeteria and listening to people seriously discuss whether they were WILLING to work under a black or female supervisor.  Well, we started having female and minority supervisors and nothing changed.  Our jobs still sucked.  Our raises still sucked.  And the reviews were never good enough.  

    Nothing changing is the biggest message of all.  Once one realizes that nothing changes, everything changes.

    "He who fears something gives it power over him."--Arab proverb

    by crazyshirley2100 on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 12:31:11 AM PDT

  •  Mr Obama's Race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crazyshirley2100

    I get very worried when I hear people refer to Mr Obama as "black."
    The man has a Caucasian mother and an African father, whom he hardly knew. So, how come he is "black"? Can someone explain this to me? Aren't there more appropriate terms for his racial makeup, if that MUST be stated?

    •  Here's an explanation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aggie98

      Barack Obama calls himself black, end of discussion. Being biracial and being forced to choose is wrong, but making that choice on your own should be respected. I get alittle nervous when people( both white and biracial) bring this topic up because it's seem like they're saying it's a negative to be "black"

      •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

        I have not heard Mr Obama refer to himself as "black." What he normally uses is "African American," which is a better description of race than the use of colors.
        The term "black" has several problems
        "Black" is being used to refer to people of African decent. Perhaps the darker skin color of these people as compared to the lighter skin color of people of European decent gave rise to this "black’ and "white" nomenclature.
        However, categorizing race by the color of a part of the human body is seriously flawed. A person’s race is a much more complex issue, which takes into account several variables, least of which is skin color. Thus, assigning skin colors to races is arbitrary with no scientific or cultural basis. Moreover, there is no human being whose skin color is either truly black or white. So, what is going on here?
        Secondly, the color black and its Latin equivalent negra have very strong negative semantics in the languages in which they come from. In English and the other Latin derivative languages, black represents what is bad and evil.
        Thus, why would African Americans be content to be assigned with the color black, with all its negativity when in-fact, their skin color is not black? Just as African Americans became weary of the term "Negro" and its clearly derogatory variant, "Nigger" they must also stop the use of its English equivalent "black" to refer to their race.

        •  on racial labels (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CVan

          One of the ways in which our society has progressed in terms of race relations is that it is now generally agreed that a group has a right to determine for itself how it should be labeled, rather than having a label thrust upon it by the majority.  

          The last study that I am familiar with (now probably more than 5 years old) that examined the preferences of African Americans regarding racial labels found that a slight majority preferred "Black" to "African American" but that younger people generally tended to prefer the latter while older people preferred the former.  I, therefore, tend to use the two interchangeably, at least for now, but it appears likely that "Black" will lose acceptability within a generation's time.

    •  Self Selection of Race (0+ / 0-)

      This is, as we never tire of reminding each other, "a free country!" You can call me anything I want you to, as long as you don't call me late for supper, as a fellow townsman jokes. In a purely scientific vein, all of us, if we go back the to birth of the species, are African. That's my argument and I sticking to it, unless I chance on a KKK convention or sheet party.
      Obama grew up among white relatives, until his mother married an Indonesian and moved to Indonesia. He grew up in racial confusion. Read his first book. As for Tiger, he is proud of his mixed ancestry. His father, a man of mixed race, African American, Caucasian, and Native American. His mother, Thai (I think) and Thai-Chinese (Chinese parents, Thai residence)". As far qas I can find out, he has no feline ancestry whatever. He has called  himself, "Cablinasian."
      Almost everyone wants a piece of him.
      One of the problems of being of mixed race, is the we run out of categories on the Census. Many people list themselves as "American." Getting an accurate racial count is important for setting affirmative action goals - a living hell in Hawaii. Everyone is in a "protected" category ("nobody here but us minorities"). On State recruitment, one must explain why each person who applied for the job wasn't hired. The only way of beating the system is to write a job-description accurately describing the perfect candidate for the job. None of them apply, so you may hire a temp, for which the necessary and sufficient condition is that the applicant be alive or simulated on the two paydays a month that he picks up his check.

      •  Self selection of race does NOT happen (0+ / 0-)

        Wel, it was known to happen to a FEW people in North Carolina and Virginia in the early 1900s when the government finally got serious about classifying them and making sure they had birth certificates.  But for the rest of us, race is assigned to you by the society.  How you think of yourself simply has nothing to do with it.  The relevant fact in America is the one-drop rule -- if you lived in one of the states that had this rule and you had any visually discernible African ancestry, then you were black.  PERIOD.  You were NOT "mixed".  OF COURSE you  were mixed, but THAT was NOT a racial category, legally, for MOST purposes!
        EVEN in places like New Orleans and Charleston where there WAS a third/middle caste, you STILL WEREN'T white.  The Plessy in Plessy vs. Ferguson was a man who looked white and could have remained white if he hadn't agreed to participate in the case.

        This is, as we never tire of reminding each other, "a free country!" You can call me anything I want you to, as long as you don't call me late for supper, as a fellow townsman jokes. In a purely scientific vein, all of us, if we go back the to birth of the species, are African. That's my argument and I sticking to it, unless I chance on a KKK convention or sheet party.

        You're IN AMERICA. That really is CLOSE ENOUGH.    More to the point, the RELEVANT question is what happens when the relevant mode of POLICEMAN happens upon YOU.   Your appearance either makes you subject to profiling or it doesn't.   Your family history is either impoverished from slavery or it isn't.  All these things have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your opinions about anything!

        "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

        by ge0rge on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 10:58:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  racial self-selection (0+ / 0-)

          But for the rest of us, race is assigned to you by the society.  How you think of yourself simply has nothing to do with it.  The relevant fact in America is the one-drop rule -- if you lived in one of the states that had this rule and you had any visually discernible African ancestry, then you were black.  PERIOD.  You were NOT "mixed".  OF COURSE you  were mixed, but THAT was NOT a racial category, legally, for MOST purposes!

          There is no denying that the above has been historically true, but I would argue that our society has started to slowly move away from this mindset.  There is still a lot of pressure on biracial people to "choose" but as of 2000, the U.S. Census provides an option for people to select "all that apply" when identifying their racial status.  If we assume (as I do) that the Census both reflects and shapes contemporary world views, then we can take this as a sign that people's thinking about biracial people is changing and is likely to continue to change.

  •  Still President Bush (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro

    is still President. We probably need to refocus on him before he pulls some stupidity on us. Barack will be an awesome president; we seem to be worried about the antiseptic before we are through being stabbed.

  •  Americans always get this wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DanceHallKing

    and we do it sounding like dorks. There seems to be a fundamental confusion on the continuing racial issues, in terms of how much progress has been made or whatever. Seems like people don't talk about it because white people are afraid to be wrong on this topic - which is itself kind of a grim indicator of overall race relations.

  •  Good diary Mikhail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Tea

    And I think it adds an important element to the discussions here about the election.

    You and Ge0rge asked above about a space devoted to race issues. That's possible here by starting a "Specialty Series". You can get information from the DKosopedia. There is an existing series called "black kos".

    Some commenters have made the point that our society is too complex to pigeonhole into the groups that you identify, but I see your groups as representational and in that sense they are accurate. Of course not all poor white people are racists but as an escapee from white trash in Appalachia, I can tell you that what you describe in your diary is absolutely true and it is the reason that Barack Obama is not going to perform well in Appalachia. You'd find, if you talked to these people, that they will not say they are motivated by race. They'll say they "don't trust him" or "he's phoney", etc. Being somehow false is the code word for being black.

    I agree that as you say, it will be interesting to see how things change! The cognitive dissonance you refer to with respect to overt racists operates in most people to some extent, but the dissonance is not at threshhold level, however much it might change the collective psyche.

    "True peace is not merely the absence of tension -- it is the presence of justice." MLK

    by dhaemeon on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 02:36:46 AM PDT

  •  Not a Psych Ph.D, but.... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not a psych Ph.D, but I'd disagree with your definition of cognitive dissonance, at least as I was taught that term.  Cognitive dissonance refers to justifying an action already made, using newly-acquired information, as if you had considered that information before making the decision.

    Example:  Betty buys a microwave oven, choosing a particular model because it's at the right price, with the wattage she wanted, and fits her counter space.  Later, when reading the owner's manual, she learns that the microwave has many other features as well, such as an automatic soup setting.  Betty later tells her friends she bought that model because of the price, wattage, footprint, and because she likes soup for lunch and this model has an automatic soup setting, even though she was unaware of that "reason" at the time she made the decision to buy.

    The cognitive process you described is what I learned as confirmation bias, where we filter new experience to confirm prior beliefs.  They are slightly different concepts, as cognitive dissonance is a function of event sequencing in memory:  Betty thinks she bought the microwave for the automatic soup setting, and will likely not remember that she didn't learn about that feature until she got the microwave home.

    "Mom, you didn't buy it for the soup setting.  You didn't know that was there until you read the owner's manual.  I remember because you got all excited about it."

    "No, sweetie, the soup setting feature was right on the box.  That's why I chose it."

    She will even 'remember' seeing that feature on the box, and could describe how it looked (what color the ink was, etc.) ... even though it wasn't there.

    That is what I learned as cognitive dissonance.  But as I said, I'm not a Ph.D in the field, so I may be conflating or confusing my terms.  As this phrase gets used a lot here, I'd love to know.

    •  Actually I don't know! (0+ / 0-)

      I was using it in layman's terms since I'm not a psychologist either :-)  Also looking at my post, I wasn't very clear.  I meant in the sense that a lot of people who oppose Obama are motivated by racial prejudice, but they can't or won't confront that in themselves, so they change their prejudice into something else like "he's a phoney" or "he's an elitist".  In the same way, some people will specifically vote for Obama because he is a black man and they are guilty of internalized racism that they want to purge. They won't say, "I'm doing this to free my conscience" because they present themselves to be color blind.  They'll say, "I'm voting for him because of his positions on . . ." So I'm not sure if it's Betty before or after the soup cycle!

      Thank you though.  Now I have a reason to look it up!

      "True peace is not merely the absence of tension -- it is the presence of justice." MLK

      by dhaemeon on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 05:36:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was replying to the diarist (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry if I hit the wrong button. :(

        I was hoping the diarist (who is a Psych Ph.D) could enlighten us.

      •  As I learned it, that's "conversion" (0+ / 0-)

        As I learned it, you were referring to conversion, where someone holds a belief for one reason (with which he/she is uncomfortable) and justifies it with another (more comfortable) reason.

        This happens often, and often invisibly.  Most of us don't like to think we inherently dislike heavy women, for example.  But given our social training, many people do inherently dislike heavy women.  If our parents disciplined us whenever we made "fatty" jokes, we usually convert that dislike by finding some other reason to dislike a heavy woman: her hair is too long or too short, her smile is too wide or too cramped, she talks too loudly or too quietly, etc.

        Basically, conversion means we hold that person to an impossible standard - in appearance, mannerisms, behavior, etc. - and thus judge him/her based on inconsequential factors that we'd ignore in someone else.  It's extremely difficult to see when we do this, because we do find those other "reasons" and thus convince ourselves we're acting reasonably rather than from prejudice.

  •  I fall into yet another camp. (0+ / 0-)
    I would find an Obama presidency liberating because, regardless of the fact that he socially identifies himself as black, in reality he is the face of the multi-ethnic, racially-mixed country that America is becoming.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 04:06:27 AM PDT

  •  Obama looked like other world leaders (0+ / 0-)

    the one thing that has stood out for me powerfully in the plethora of photo ops, news stories etc. In the tour to date, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel wherever he was, on the tarmac, even surrounded by US soldiers who didn't seem to have been used as props, at press conferences surrounded by viedeo and still cameras, practically everyone was what we might euphemistically call 'non-white'. That would be world leaders, drivers, publicity people, photographers and the entire swarming mass who meeted and greeted him.

    He looked more like 'them' than 'us'.  Maybe it is we in America who have got it all backwards, much of the world is non-Caucasian.  I imagine those images will change today in Germany, and Britain today if shown honestly also has a largely non-white face, of course the government only has I think two or three legislators who are people of color.

    All the euphimisms that we skirt around.  So, finally we might get to have a president who looks more like the rest of the world.  Do you think that will help wake America up?

  •  n/t (0+ / 0-)

    I'm voting for Obama because he's a Democrat.  Even sent him some money.
    Race.....schmase.

    •  n/t ??? (0+ / 0-)

      An abbreviation commonly used in email and on internet bulletin boards and web-groups for "no text" or "note topic." This abbreviation is used when the subject line of a forum or email based post states all or a majority of what a writer desires to say.

      If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

      by TKH on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 09:00:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the obvious one not mentioned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YellerDog

    Did I miss it?
    When did Obama become black?
    Last I checked he was HALF WHITE!
    even the talking right wing clown crowned
    him with "halfrican american..............

    So there will be a whole lot of white voters
    voting for him because "he's not really black"

    He was raised by white folks, talks white, went
    to white schools, went to a white college........

    You have to feel sorry for everyone on both sides
    of this issue - they are in a lose/lose situation.

    Obama is a phenomonon.  A once in a generation,
    omg his time has come - get out of the way he's
    comin'thru happening.........

    yeah us!

    •  Well he does identify himself as black. (0+ / 0-)

      Personally I'll be voting for him because he is the most qualified candidate we have had in years.  Maybe even more so than Al-(didn't get the job done)Gore. That is a win/win situation.

      Very nice diary.  Hope to hear more from you.  

      "Vote Your Hopes Not Your Fears."

      by YellerDog on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 01:14:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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