Monday, January 19, 2009

It was just Martin Luther King Jr Day: Let's discuss race in the election.

Even though our seminar is technically about gender in the presidential election, I think the issue of race is just as important to bring to the table. I found a great article by Michael A. Fletcher online at regarding Obama being African American. It states that Obama did not call attention to the issue of race for most of his campaign, but that now that he is the President, he can talk more about how his racial identity can bring the country together. In speaking with The Washington Post about the fact that he, as an African American, is going to be President of the United States, Obama said, "I mean, that's a radical thing. It changes how black children look at themselves. It also chances how white children look at black children. And I wouldn't underestimate the force of that."

As a white person I could not be happier that we finally have a black President, and it is so difficult to imagine those who are resentful of this accomplishment. That sad fact goes to show that we have much more growing to do as a country before everyone will be able to look at others in the same way. Unfortunately we will not see that day for a long time, but I have hope that we'll get there eventually. This election will be one that we tell our future children and grandchildren about, and if this was just the spark of a wave of political diversity, then there will be many more elections like this to come. In Obama's inauguration speech he did bring up race, and I thought that to be very important. Though we don't want to think he was elected because of his color, it is still such an accomplishment to those who have endured discrimination in this country over the years and I think he truly reached out to those people with that part of his speech.

In the article I mentioned earlier, however, it stated that the fact that Obama is half-black raises questions as to whether he is "black enough." This is so racist in itself, and just because Obama's mother and grandparents (in the picture above) are white does mean this isn't still an accomplishment for the African American race, something in which they should have pride. After this point, the article began touching on the thought that since Obama is half-black, he is a "good compromise person;" he can feel and relate to the dilemmas of more than one race. I think this to be a strange assumption because anyone can be a "good compromise person," no matter his or her race.

This article is interesting to me because it is discussing the different racial issues that have come up regarding Obama and I would never have thought of them this way. I know that race is significant, but I do not think that it determines one's character or ability to run the country. The fact that people are seriously discussing that issue goes to show it will take some time for this country to reach complete satisfaction with equality. Michael Strautmanis, who has worked with Obama on his Senate staff and will be one of his White House aides, thinks and comments that Obama "just looks at people who would be divided by race and naturally sees what they have in common." He says that Obama "is so comfortable in his own skin that he makes you comfortable in your skin, so you stop thinking about the things that would divide you." This quote really stuck out to me, and I believe this is exactly what he need in a President. I am so thrilled for the era of Obama and I am hopeful for our country in the years to come.

1 comment:

Phia! said...

Im hopeful for this country too. I look at Barack Obama as a symbol for America already changing. Im excited to see what happens in future years to come. Your blog does speak the truth about a lot of race issuse that are around. People have so many different views on this issue and the links in your blog prove it.