Thursday, January 8, 2009

claim that racism is over because we have a black president

My life has been very busy lately, with little time to spare for my regular kinds of posts. I plan to get back to them soon.

This post is sort of an open thread. If something in particular is on your mind, do tell, but I have a specific question to ask:

A lot of pundits and so on are claiming that the fact of a black president is proof that racism in America is over. Are you also encountering people who make such claims in your daily life? If so, or if you anticipate encountering them, how are you dealing with them?

Are those of us who know how strong and pervasive racism and white supremacy still are going to answer people who hold up President Obama as supposed evidence that they're not?

As a new study suggests, we need to practice our responses to anticipated racist situations, especially if we're white. According to a study of racist attitudes and behavior reported on by CNN, even people who consider themselves "tolerant and egalitarian" are "willing to tolerate racism and not stand up against it."

In other words, we may like to think that we would stand up against racism when we encounter it, but chances are, we won't. Surely then, practice can help, including prepared responses and reactions to those who play the "racism is over" card.

I thought again about this new problem for those committed to anti-racism yesterday, when someone arrived at this blog by entering this question into Google:

"How can people bitch about racism when there is going to be a black president???"

Where do we start with such folks if we meet them in person?

I'm also wondering about one other thing--while race and racism haven't suddenly dissipated because Obama got elected, they are going to change. But, how?


  1. Stuff white people do: lecture other whites that racism isn't going to disappear because Barack Obama has been elected president.

  2. "How can people bitch about racism when there is going to be a black president???"

    --How to deal with such people in person...
    ask them how come white people didn't stop being poor when the last 43 presidents were elected?

    Or being killed?

    Or becoming drug addicts?

    or why didn't Bush being president stop Sarah Palin's daughter from having a baby out of wedlock?

    Or anything else that is expected to happen to AAs now that Barack Obama is President?

    If that person can articulate how having a white male president automatically made white Americans issues disappear COMPLETELY, then I guess they have a valid point.

    I have a good feeling I'm never going to hear that answer.

  3. Anonymous, am I one of those people you're talking about? If so, I'm not saying that whites should lecture other whites about that. I'm saying that if they start lecturing about or otherwise claiming that Obama's election proves that racism is over, I should counteract their noxious, malodorous ignorance with some air-clearing truth.

  4. Good answers, I am not Star Jones, thank you. But then, you might also need to explain how or why any of those are "white" issues, since most white folks think of them as individual issues, or maybe class-based issues, but not "white" issues. Assuming that's worth the bother.

  5. Macon D...
    I would hope the conversation would lead to a deeper exploration on the cognitive roadmap that lets some people be viewed as an individual and others seen strictly through the prism of race and/or class.

  6. I am new to your blog. Actually found it through listening to NPR's "Inside The Thorny Landscape Of Racial Stereotypes." I'm actually teaching a class on ethnic & race relations starting tomorrow, and am assigning that NPR program for students to listen to.

    I am also spending the day of class before the inauguration showing Obama's "More Perfect Union" speech, then the class after talking about if we are a "post-racial society." I'm interested in what my students will think. I'm also assigning them to watch the inauguration. We shall see.

  7. Welcome, Pitse1eh! Always nice to have a social psychologist around. Best of luck with your classes, and it would be great to hear how students respond to the NPR program and the Obama material.


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code