Presidential Campaign

The Race Card?

The elephant in the room? The Bradley effect? The question America has asked itself for a year and a half: How racist is this country? Would it elect a black man to the presidency? How accurate are recent polls indicating that a large percentage of the voting public will decide its vote based on race? Many voters are for and many against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the basis of race alone.

A perceptive friend asked about an apparent inconsistency. How come Americans idolize black entertainers (Oprah, et al), athletes (Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, et al), musicians (Louis Armstrong, Beyonce, et al), yet they seem to be hostile to the idea of a black president? Is it wishful thinking to hope that in politics this reluctance will change?

It was very difficult for Jackie Robinson to break into baseball. Now, no one thinks it is unusual to field a team of blacks, Asians, Latinos. Blacks in movies were rare and stereotypical when I was young. Then Sidney Poitier came to dinner, and many others followed, to popular acclaim. Black entertainers were segregated; Nat King Cole was beaten in one Southern state. Then Sammy Davis Jr. joined the Rat Pack, and that changed. For centuries the United States Supreme Court was all white. Then Thurgood Marshall broke the barrier, and (oh well, nothing’s perfect).

Barriers fall, is the point, and this one will, too. It’s only a question of time. And now is the best time. There are many successful black politicians — just no president, so far. Wouldn’t it be nice to put this vestige away — not because Barack Obama is black — or part black — but because he is so smart!


Tags Barack Obama Barack Obama Black people Candidate Position Entertainment Kinship and descent Oprah Winfrey Person Career Politics Race Sidney Poitier Social interpretations of race Social Issues United States

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