Sunday, November 16, 2008

President he is, racial magician he is not

I have written on the topic of racism a couple of times with stories from both personal experience as well as from the public, political spectrum. The root of the discussion when it comes to American history is founded in the African American slave trade in the 17 and 1800s that took centuries to combat and still lingers today. The part I find fascinating is that the mentality to fight racism was reverse racism and the bizarre standards and crazy expectations that consequently follow.

At the crux of this reflection was a recent CNN article on Barack Obama ascension to the Presidency of the United States. The gist of the piece was that blacks were generally more stunned that an African American could become President while whites were generally more casually interested in the historical significance of the recent election:

The poll also suggests a racial divide among people who thought a black candidate would be elected president in their lifetimes. Fifty-nine percent of white respondents said they thought a black president would be elected in their lifetime, but only 29 percent of black respondents agreed.

Certainly what happened on election night was a moment of historical importance, but the different perceptions among the different races is equally fascinating. The background and life experiences of those in each category suggested a different outcome to this election. So far so good with conclusions.

"Even in polls taken earlier this year, a majority of African-Americans said that a solution to the country's racial problems would never be found; now blacks and whites agree that racial tensions may end."

Ok, now this is a little silly. What changes prejudices are patience, tolerance, learning, experience, and most notably time. Barack Obama as President may mean a lot of things, but in a day and age where we still have the KKK making news headlines, a sudden end all be all to racial tensions is unreasonable. More likely is that this will be another life experience that may shape Americans to appreciate, understand, tolerate, and accept the differences of those that make up this country.

I'm excited for President Obama to begin his Presidency, and I hope good times follow for this country. Instantaneous racial harmony, though, is unrealistic and not something I foresee as a product of the next four years. Improvements, I'll agree with, but an ending of racial tensions is not something this country will see by 2012, if ever. I simply struggle with the perception that a single individual will solve all the problems in this arena. That's an expectation not fair to him or reasonable for Americans to place on President Obama. A smart man, great politician, African-American history maker, and our next President for sure. A racial tension end-er definitely not.

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