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Race and politics: Both sides of the coin

By Griffin · May 13th, 2008 · No Comments


WashPo releases a must-read story on the many unreported incidents of racism inflicted on Obama campaign volunteers:

For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.

If nothing else, the story highlights the fact that the Clintons’ (and the media’s) thoughtless stoking of racial fires in order to further Hillary’s failed candidacy (or gain cheap ratings) has real consequences beyond politics. But before we throw America– particularly the less-educated, white portions of it– off the bridge, blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates makes this insightful observation, in an essay voting and race:

White voters are not all the same. It’s really been enlightening for me to watch Obama’s share of the white vote change state by state. It’s really obliterated this idea that all white people everywhere think the same about blacks. It’s even obliterated the only slightly more nuanced idea that white voters in the South are somehow more racist than white voters in the North. What does it mean that Ohio and Wisconsin whites voted so differently? What do we take from the idea that Obama lost the white vote in Pennsylvania but won it Virginia?

Well, quite a bit as my super-intelligent commenters have pointed out. It seems that it isn’t even a matter of poor whites versus rich whites, or educated whites versus non-educated whites, although all of that factors in. We’ve seen that the percentage of black folks doesn’t really make a difference either. There is something beautiful in this, because you see a complexity in the great monolith that is often simply labeled White America. It’s a complexity that, as a black person, I often miss. Even the one simple fact buried inside is beautiful–the biggest predictor of the white vote seems to be age. The point? The racists aren’t the future. We are.

Tags: Barack Obama · Democrats


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