The big loser: Race relations

Diverse City
By SHAY STEWART-BOULEY  |  November 7, 2012


As I write this column, we are literally in the final stretches of the 2012 presidential election and it seems to be a dead heat. So, I won't be surprised about who wins either way, and I simply have to have faith that even if they guy I want to win doesn't, the country will survive and move on and we won't end up crumbling at the seams.

Well, except maybe a bit more crumbling at the racial seams . . .

In 2008, the air was filled with excitement about the possible hope and change that Barack Obama might possibly bring us, and in that spirit of hope, a lot of people decided it was time to give a black man a chance at the Oval Office. In my opinion, a lot of them must have been thinking in terms of Will Smith movies and expected a "magical negro," because when he couldn't reverse a near-total economic collapse in four years, people started to get antsy.

Even Obama's most passionate and ardent supporters seem positively moribund these days. I guess now that his election won't be history-making and it didn't usher the nation into the land flowing with milk and honey, they're no longer jazzed up.

Then there is Mitt Romney, a man who even with the first debate boost doesn't appear to inspire the Republican voting base, or even the insiders. Instead, he is simply the choice of "anyone but Obama." Which is what the Republicans have wanted since 2008 when Obama won — to make him a one-term president at any cost, even if that cost is to fan the flames of racial distrust and bigotry. But the Republicans can't muster excitement, and who can blame them? Their candidate's views change almost as often as his shoes. Is he is the hard-line conservative, the moderate he acted like back in Massachusetts, or the man on the tape revealed by Mother Jones magazine stating that 47 percent of Americans simply want to ride on the gravy train at the expense of others?

I fear, we're damned if we get Obama and damned if we get Romney, racially speaking, and that's not because of the number 47 but because of the number 51.

As recently noted in an Associated Press poll, 51 percent of white Americans harbor prejudice toward Blacks — and are almost equally as prejudiced towards Hispanics, in the nation that so many were saying suddenly became "post-racial" when Obama was elected.

I'd say we're more fractured than ever.

Many people of color have said since the election there has been a decrease in racial sensitivity (including whites openly saying they "feel like minorities") since Obama's election. Now, as I watch and wait to see who wins the Oval Office, there's confirmation that we weren't just imagining things.

I've said before that racism is subtle sometimes, and often it lives just under the surface — that it festers when left unaddressed, as it has been since we got ahead of ourselves with the whole post-racial thing.

Now we will either see Obama get four more years, and people who fear brown in the White House will lose their minds even more — and perhaps finally make good on the threats of armed insurrection. Or we will get Romney, who lacks empathy for anyone not in his peer group and seems to have less sympathy for people who don't remotely resemble him, like people of color and gays/lesbians.

I fear that no matter who wins this thing, the reality is we are all losers. Losers because despite the hard work done to create lasting change racially, that change was about as long-lasting as my last diet; I kept the weight off for a while but it eventually crept back.

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  Topics: News Features , Will Smith, Obama, Romney,  More more >
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