When Barack Obama became our next President, many of us bought into the idea that his victory signaled a “Post-Racial America.”
We were clearly wrong.
It will take more than the first bi-ethnic President to get us to that place. And we should have known that. But what is more surprising, at least to me, is that in many ways it appears President Obama’s victory has actually caused a lot of people to get worse about their issues regarding so-called “race.” For some on the right, possibly angry that a man with his complexion is the leader of this country, they have been emboldened to speak with even more venom on matters of ethnic difference. The Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, The Birthers, even Dr. Laura and the whole “N-Word” controversy, they have all seemingly gone truly insane since Obama came into office. (well some were insane any way I guess)
But it is not just the people on the Right. For some on the Left, I think the expectation of a drastic change, in a short amount of time, an expectation that did not come to fruition, also made them crazy too. And for some Blacks, the fact that racism still exists, that their lives did not change because a partially Black man is in the White House, caused them to also get angrier at perceived slights. We’ve always had incidents of ethnic tensions and animosity, but it’s hard not to think some of the tensions are worse. The recent attacks in New York City’s Staten Island, of Blacks assaulting Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, is I think, a factor of the new tensions, and somewhat related to the anti-immigrant talk in the country now, led in part by Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Even the major brouhaha in New York, and the ensuing national debate, over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” is a sign to me of a country not going forward in the way many of us had expected. The religious intolerance, and that’s what it is on this issue, since Islam is being acquainted with terrorism, when Islam did not attack the World Trade Center, idiot terrorists did, is another indicator that our prejudices have become more open rather than better.
But maybe the positive in this, the silver lining if there is one, is that things have to get worse in order to get better. So maybe all of this coming out in the open, as painful as it is to watch and hear, is a step in the right direction. Maybe getting all these feelings out in the open is indeed a sign of progress. After all, we do have to deal with it and until we put it out there, there can be no dealing with it.
So looked at that way, maybe the “Post-Racial America” is indeed closer. We just have to get through this growth period before we get there. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get too much uglier before it gets better.