Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Race Shouldn't Matter

I wrote the majority of this post right after the South Carolina primary. However, even after the Wright controversy, it's more relevant now.

The stupidity of those in the media was apparent in the weeks leading up to South Carolina and Mississippi primaries. Yes, southern states have significant black populations. However, Iowa, the bastion of black power gave Obama the first victory of this election season and credibility in the black and white communities. If Iowa hadn't stepped up to the plate, Obama may not be in the position he's in now. This Iowa lead-off has resulted in endorsement after endorsement from democratic leaders in red and blue states. A yellow flag, called the Rev. Wright controversy, may have slowed him down a little, but I don't see throngs of people abandoning him. In fact, after all the hysteria of last week, Obama lost only a few percentage points to Clinton in the purple state of Pennsylvania, and Clinton hasn't gained a single super delegate. Indeed, during this media frenzy, Obama picked up extra delegates from Iowa.

For those in Pennsylvania and other areas who see Obama as simply a slick talking black man, they are being short-sighted. In fact, Obama cannot simply be labeled the black candidate. His mother is white, his half sister is Asian, he spent time in Asia, and was raised by his white grandparents in Hawaii. Based upon his background, it's apparent that he can unite many communities. This potential is shown from polls taken overseas where he receives overwhelming international support. If elected president, this support may go a long way in restoring the reputation of the United States, which has been so badly damaged in the last seven years.

However, a word of caution for those in the traditional black community. If Mr. Obama is successful, he won't be the panacea for racism that exists in this country. He admitted this much in his news conference yesterday. Indeed, he will be the President of the United States, not the president of blacks who are in the United States. His presence in the White House won't change the hearts and minds of many who judge on the basis of skin color. His executive position won't help those who are denied jobs and promotions. To cure the ills of work discrimination, we need to revamp Title VII. The present discrimination laws are too easy to evade. In fact, a 5th grader could be taught how to discriminate with impunity, while thumbing his nose at the laws. Also (to be fair), his rise won't educate those who don't want to learn and won't give jobs to those who don't want to work.

Nevertheless, each black, can do something to improve the lot of the collective. Just think of that young forgotten man in Jena, Louisiana who had the nerve to stand up at a school meeting to ask if blacks could sit under what had been designated as a whites only tree. This young man stepped where many blacks (young and old alike) were too "yella" to go. Indeed, what kind of mentality must these black parents have had who knew about this segregation, but allowed their children to be subjected to it year after year, generation after generation?

Yes, it will take a while to change the hearts and minds of a certain shrinking percentage of this country (the racist whites and the coonified blacks). Unfortunately, many of these people have hiring, firing, promotion, arrest, conviction, and sentencing powers. These people won't be eliminated with an Obama victory. However, an Obama victory will go a long way in changing the hearts and minds of the next generation and many who are on the fence. This possibility is clearly shown in the results in Iowa and the current polls that still show Obama as a viable candidate even after all the hullabaloo about his minister.