Obama's Victory - So What if He's Black?

So much has been said on Barack Obama’s victory, his investiture, and whatever else he’s done, said or reported to have said in between, that I do not feel like re-hashing information that has already been written, printed, wired, RSSed, copied, emailed, and reduplicated countless times through various media… However, I am bringing up the subject in order to question just how far we’ve actually come seeing that much of the hubbub surrounding Obama’s election is linked to his racial background.

There’s no doubt (in my mind, at least) that Bush’s departure was reason enough to initiate much of the rejoicing and partying that went on, but let’s be totally honest – all the highly publicised parties and jamborees, not to mention the Oprah-sponsored-Obama-fest, all had a racial ‘flavour’ or undertone despite the euphemisms, abstractions or non-sequiturs that were being needlessly applied (blacks and minorities should be rejoycing).

But making a big deal out of something instantly delineates that ‘thing’ as being out of the ordinary. And I mean sure, being the first Afro-American elected for the ‘top position’ in the country is a big deal, but doesn’t the ‘big deal’ factor inversely allow us to grade just how far we are from accepting the ‘thing’ or ‘event’ as a common, everyday occurrence?
During the campaign, highlighting Obama’s skin colour in any way beyond questioning the impact this will have seems to me like a form of reverse-racism; equality and judging a man purely on his deeds is certainly not meant to entail that race becomes a topic and bait for the 'minority votes.'
For me, Obama was the best choice – once Clinton was removed – period. His racial background was a refreshing positive, but doesn't true democracy imply that race, sex and religion should not be a part of any campaign platform. In fact, in an article I’d written for another site about Obama’s victory , it was the editor who pointed out to me that I hadn’t mentioned anywhere that Obama was black, only that his victory “denotes a clear change in the American attitude and a possibility to snuff out their reputation as racists by moving them beyond a history of cruel racism.” I had done this unconsciously - his colour wasn’t even a topic. Nonetheless, the conversation with the editor went like this:
Him: You don’t even say anywhere that he’s the first black president.
Me: Why is it so important to point that out?
Him: Are you kidding?! That’s the news!
Me: Isn’t being elected president of the U.S. news enough?
Him: Yeah, but he’s black!
Me: So? Bush was white; no headline read ‘White asshole elected for President!’
Him: Don’t be a smart ass!

Will there be such festivities should a second Afro-American be elected immediately after Obama? He – as I fear we are still far from seeing a black female president of the U.S. – will, after all, be the ‘first’ to be the ‘second’ and hence represent the confirmation that a change has indeed occurred. But don’t bother trying to answer – the question is moot! Obama may be in office for a second term but one thing’s for sure: we ain’t gonna see another black man running for President immediately after Obama – white men will fear that ‘they’ are taking over…

And what about the homies, the ‘wazup’ crowd, the ghetto-ed gang members and gangster rappers - all those blacks for whom the N-word is nothing more than a jovial noun, verb, adverb or adjective when used amongst themselves but becomes the worst possible racial slur when uttered by anyone they don’t tolerate – the kind of people which, whether in L.A., Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and everything in between, have participated in violent hate crimes against members of their own race which they saw as being ‘white-ified’; how do these people feel about Obama? To these people, shouldn’t he represent the ultimate “Oreo” (black on the outside but white inside) – the absolute traitor? As an extension of their own logic, shouldn't they, like white-supremacists and neo-nazi types (ignorance incarnate), be seeing him as the ultimate target rather than a hero?

What about the likes of the Afro-American League and all those anti-racist groups? Would they be shouting and snarling ‘discrimination’ and then provoke a succession of marches and rallies had John McCain been elected?

So is Obama’s victory a sign that things are indeed truly changing? That barriers are finally being removed and that the voice of the people is finally being heard? Yes, in a way it certainly does, but my paranoscepticynical self also leans towards the idea that the extremely WASPy fellowship of the mahogany-and-club-tie ol’ boys is still very much in power and, being comprised of disgustingly moneyed businessmen whose only involvements in politics are related to the manipulatings of politicians, Obama’s electoral win represented a wise financial direction – especially with the growing reliance on foreign investments – that they merely allowed the people to set course on…

Or perhaps this is merely an indication that the same ol’ boys club mentioned above is a tad less racist than it is sexist, and that a man, any man, is still preferred over a woman – especially one that has already had the gal to attempt standing up to them (re. health care) back when she was first lady… And the best candidate to counter another candidate who’s banking on the potential history-making aspect their victory signifies is one whose victory represents an even more momentous event. Is it really a coincidence that in the end the Democrats offered two presidential nominees whose very win, irregardless of what was to follow, promised a “change” – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? And why do you think McCain chose Pallin?

The question begs to be asked: If the U.S. had not been suffering a world-wide identity crisis and had the economic situation been ‘triple-A’ good, would Obama have been nominated for the presidential race?

Here is a funny post that was recently made on a joke forum which bluntly illustrates that idea:
Regarding Obama’s platform of “change”: I say, "what change?" because what's so new about a black guy being called in to clean up a mess created by a white guy?

And if things don’t get any better in the next four years, who are the voters and history going to blame for the sorry state of the nation? Is the average Joe and Jane Smith American really going to remember that it was a smug, manipulated, money-hungry, wouldn’t-have-gotten-anywhere-except-for-daddy son-of-a-bitch that really put them in the hole in the first place?

We’ve seen it in Quebec. The Liberals finally win a provincial election after it’s been in the hands of the Partie Quebecois for 12 years; they inherit a budget that, after careful scrutiny, reveals a 1 billion dollar deficit hidden by the PQ, and a few years down the road everyone’s complaining that the Liberals haven't kept their promises and forgetting why they couldn’t keep them. These same people complain about the Liberal’s lack of response to the need for more qualified professionals in our health care system while, again, forgetting that it was the PQ and Pauline Marois’ (and she’s now the PQ party leader – what’s wrong with this picture?) plan that saw the number of health professionals being drastically reduced and further, forgetting that it takes several years (and money) to train replacements…

So what’s going to come from this “historic change?” Only time will tell.

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© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier

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