Posts tagged “race relations”

obama era post-racism

conclusions being drawn from the latest NY Times/CBS poll about americans’ perspectives on race relations in the U.S. show that since obama was elected, there has been a significant increase in people – of all races – feeling like race relations are better now.



now, i remember november 4th, 2008 – i was at home, without a tv – when around 8pm (pst) there was a sudden roar outside on the street.  crowds who were watching the election results at the parkway speakeasy theatre (RIP) right behind my apartment, had poured out onto the streets, hooting and hollering, dancing and playing instruments, all celebrating obama’s victory.  awhile later, jess and i walked outside to see what all was happening, and as we walked around our neighborhood, there was a marked difference: everyone – no matter who – was smiling and making eye contact and talking to everyone else – no matter who.  it was a nice change.  but it was a moment – a very specific moment in history.

are people still drunk on the obama kool-aid?  thinking that all is well between the races now that a black (mixed) man is in the white house?  overwhelmingly, i think it is so true that americans (people?) trust a “general feeling” so much more than actual facts.  we rarely reconcile the two, even when the facts are right in front of our faces.  and with most facts being very intentionally buried under the corporate media machine, it’s even harder to reconcile feeling from fact.

*PAUSE:  i am in no way trying to invalidate or deem irrational, knowledge based on intuition and emotion, or holding science-based “rational” decisions over the emotional, felt-sense.*

however, i do think that we are deliberately bombarded with so much propaganda and “manufactured consent”, that our “felt-sense” is highly manipulatable (did i make that word up?).  and the vast majority of those in power would love for the masses to have this feel-good view of race relations now, and declare racism over.

jon stewart hosted presidential historian doris kearns-goodwin on the daily show last week to talk about obama’s first 100 days, and she talked about how a sign of “good” leadership (i would say “powerful”) is when people have this feel-good feeling, like things are going in a good direction.  it certainly appears to me that obama has achieved this – most americans have that feeling – about politics, and about race relations.  people are patting themselves on the back for a job well-done, getting obama elected, and getting over a massive racist hurdle.

so what do i think is so wrong with this? if most people – of all races – are feeling better about relations between races – isn’t that a good thing?

as much as i acknowledge that you have to believe in something to help (not make) it come true, i do not believe that people just thinking racism is dead is going to “manifest” the same.

i think the danger lies in the difference between reality and perception.  the fact that people think race relations have improved, actually brings us a step (or several) backwards in the struggle for racial equality and liberation.  it makes us even more blind to the hard truths about racial disparities, and less motivated to address these issues.

all in all, this “improved race relations” perception is another symptom of the disease that spreads across the left when democrats gain control of our government – complacency and armchair activism increase.  people have a “feeling” that things are decidedly “better” than when republicans are in control – and proceed to sit back and trust our government officials to do the right thing – instead of getting out and demanding (and creating) solutions.

one thing may be true – that there is more opportunity for improvement at this moment – in race relations, politics in general – but the danger lies in people believing it will come from those in office.  it has only ever, and will only ever – come from us.

Racewire ran a great article about the ny times poll:  “Doublespeak on ‘race relations'”


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