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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Obama and racism

It's obvious that the election of Barack Obama didn't end racism in the United States. Some want to call the election a "victory over racism" or a "blow to racism," and perhaps it was. However 47% of the electorate voted for John McCain, so it is entirely possible that not a single racist overcame their racism because of economic considerations and voted for Obama; the population of racists isn't that high, even though institutional racism is still endemic.

But here's the effect that I think this election will have on racism: the effect it will have on new generations of Americans. Every American now coming into some kind of political consciousness (let's say from age 8 on just to be arbitrary) will now, for the next four (and, in my opinion, quite probably eight) years, become accustomed to the idea of a Black President, and even after that, further generations will know that there was a Black President, even if the next one doesn't come along for many years afterwards. And I think that knowledge will have an effect in diminishing racism in the future. It's hard, almost impossible, to "cure" someone of racist. Once a racist, always a racist. But preventing them from becoming a racist, that's much easier. And I think the existence of a Black President will very definitely do that.

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