- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Why Race has Slipped from America’s Table

New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson Posted: May 14, 2009

Editor's Note: In last year's presidential campaign, race was not the factor that many thought -- and some hoped -- it would be. More than 100 days into his administration, President Barack Obama has made sure that it stays that way.

During the last presidential election campaign, Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain got one thing right about his Democratic rival Barack Obama. McCain told Larry King that he didn't think race would be much of an issue in the final vote. As McCain put it, only "a tiny, tiny, minority" would vote against Obama because he's black.

This was not just McCain campaign puffery to tout his credential as a play-it-straight-on-race guy. Race was never the factor in the campaign that many thought and some hoped that it would be. McCain took it off the table and Obama -- with his race- and issues-neutral pitch – made sure it stayed off the table.

More than 100 days into the president’s term, he’s made sure that it stays that way. In February, Attorney General Eric Holder lambasted Americans for being cowards in not talking about and dealing with race. Obama, in a mild back door rebuke at a press conference, softened the tone and reminded that racial confrontation is not his style or his way. In another press conference, Obama shrugged off a question about race by simply saying that any racial back-patting about his election “lasted about a day."

Obama’s relative silence on racial matters has done much to continue to shove them to the nation’s back burner. This was amply confirmed in an April New York Times/CBS poll. It found that Americans by big margins said that race relations are good, and more blacks than ever said the same.

Obama’s race barrier shattering historic win in part explains the increased racial goodwill. More blacks than ever are truly optimistic that the last vestiges of racial inequities and wrongs are fast disappearing. There’s the sense that the still gaping problems of economic and racial disparities are under full frontal assault further buoys that hope.

McCain’s and Obama's best efforts to make race a non-issue in the campaign and Obama’s race-neutral approach to policymaking and statecraft, however, would fall short without the sea change in public attitudes. Unlike the last decade, which saw the 1991 Rodney King beating and the 1992 urban riots that followed the acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat him, and the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, this decade been one of relative racial peace in America.

During this time, polls consistently showed that more whites than ever were genuinely convinced that America was a color-blind society, equal opportunity was a reality, and blacks and whites if not exactly attaining complete social and economic equality, were closer than ever to that goal. Though the figures on income, education and health care still show a colossal gap between poor blacks and whites, the perception nonetheless is that racism is an ugly and nasty byproduct of a long gone past.

Even the passage by huge margins of anti-affirmative action measures in California, Michigan, and Washington during the past decade, was not simply a case of whites engaging in racial denial or a cover for hidden bias. Many white voters backed the initiatives because they honestly believed that color should never be in the equation in hiring and education and that race is divisive.

It's easy to see why they believe that. "Whites only" signs and redneck Southern cops unleashing police dogs, turning fire hoses on and beating hapless black demonstrators are forgotten. Americans turn on their TVs and see legions of black newscasters and talk show hosts, topped by TV's richest and most popular celebrity, Oprah Winfrey.

They see mega-rich black entertainers and athletes pampered and fawned over by a doting media and an adoring public. They see TV commercials that picture blacks living in trendy integrated suburban homes, sending their kids to integrated schools and driving expensive cars. They saw blacks such as former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice in high-profile, policymaking positions in the Bush Administration. They see dozens of blacks in Congress, many more in state legislatures and city halls. They see blacks heading corporations and universities. And now there’s an African-American heading the most powerful political spot in the world, the presidency.

At times, Obama has been asked whether he will back special initiatives and programs to deal with the racial disparities that still ensnare millions of poor blacks and Latinos. His answer is to acknowledge that the inequities exist. But the best way to attack them is with more and new programs and greater spending on housing, education and job creation, as well as tougher enforcement of civil rights and voting rights laws.

Pres. Obama’s diffusing of race is not to deny that racial problems exist and still corrode much of American society. This is enough to insure that America’s racial ills won’t permanently slip from the nation’s table.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and nationally on blogtalkradio.com

Related Articles:

Racial Inequality Still Going Strong in U.S.

Obama Gets it Right and Wrong on U.N. Racism Conference

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Civil Liberties

Why There Are Words

Aug 10, 2011