Watching the Barbara Walters interview with Barack and Michelle Obama, a relative, in town for Thanksgiving, piped up: “Well, I’m just going to admit it. I had a hard time voting for him because, well you know, the whole Black thing.”
“Uh, what Black thing would that be?”
“Well, you know, I know he’s smart and everything and will probably be a good President. But it was tough to vote for a Black man.”
The mind just boggles. I was so depressed by this admission I didn’t pursue it further.
I sort of didn’t want to know the answer to the obvious first question: “So you are presented with someone you think is smart and qualified, you like his views on the issues, but Race is a complete deal breaker?”
Or should I be encouraged that she eventually overcame whatever repulsion she felt for Obama’s race, actually voted for him and now thinks he’s going to be a great president?
Can I just set the record straight here that this relative did not grow up in a trailer park in Alabama.
She’s a University-educated New Englander.
Even worse, her husband was a career Army officer. You know, the US Army as in one of the FIRST institutions in America to be fully integrated. Back when the Civil Rights Movement was trying to guarantee African-Americans their rights to vote, her husband was serving beside and was friends with Black officers in the Army. He even went to West Point with African Americans. In other words, this couple, almost before most White Americans, had Black colleagues with whom they shared professional and social spheres.
So sorry, Obama, I know we’ve made progress, but I don’t think, as you said to Barbara, we’ve gotten beyond Race.