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The Persistence of Racism and Obama

We are far away from a "post racial society." Look at the political map of the election in West Virginia and Kentucky. Uneducated working class whites were easily duped by the race card that Hillary played.  Racism still finds its home with the ignorant and uneducated. Many hard hat working class whites are still swayed by racist tactics.  Even though the de jure status of segregation and overt racism are now illegal the racism amongst us is still quite evident. The Katrina disaster in New Orleans is but one example of the racism that lies just below the surface and is rekindled during a crisis. The messages of racism are now coded script, or masked so that its hatreds can be perpetuated on hate radio and the likes. Racism has made an adjustment; it is now "colorblind," using the words of Professor Eduardo Bonilla Silva in his book "Racism Without Racists."

By Mario Marcel Salas


One has to understand that this society and the foundations of the political structures in this country were founded upon a racial birth disorder. The white colonial settlers founded this country on the ideological premise of "manifest destiny," and hence the genocide of the native population. This genocide coincided with the introduction of African slavery and the institutionalization of the rules of racial etiquette that are still working in the background. Obama is not supposed to be running for president by the rules established and practiced by de facto racism. Whenever possible they will go after him with everything in the racial play book to prevent him from winning. The racist ideas that once held sway in the minds of most white Americans has diminished to be sure, but has not disappeared. I teach political science, and every semester I teach I make it a point to ask students if they have heard friends or relatives make racial remarks that made them feel uneasy. Generally, 70-90% of the class responds in the affirmative. Whites tell me that they have friends or relatives that "hate blacks," and the African American and Hispanic students tell me that they have experienced racial profiling or some other form of discrimination.  African American student also tell me that even some of their black friends make racist comments about Mexicans or some other racial group and that they felt sorry for them and their ignorant views. I have been doing this survey for seven years now, and the pattern remains the same. "Post Racial Society?"  I wish it were true!


The politics of colonialism perpetuated by the white settlers in this country created a system that bends but does not break. It morphs, but it does not disappear. This has led many to suggest that racism may be a permanent structure that will not completely fade away because it was built to last. Today, when blacks and other non-white groups complain of police abuse or racial profiling that are said to "be playing the race card.’ When the victims complain they are told we "live in a colorblind society now." Nothing could be further from the truth as the fiasco created from the Rev. Wright controversy illustrates so clearly. White preachers are given a pass in this society. Billy Graham once made some anti-Semitic comments. Recently John Hagee, who endorsed McCain called the Catholic religion a "whore" of some sort. But when Rev. Wright began a discussion about race he was beat to a pulp in the media in an effort to shoot political skates under Obama. This is racism in the raw, but it is masked with charges of being "Unpatriotic" or "Anti-American."


Having said all of that, how could an African American run as a civil rights activist and have any reasonable chance to win unless he or she "toned it down." I think Obama has done a good job of "toning it down" in order to prevent the diehard racists from being able to get him outright. Remember, it was the trumped up charges of the rape of some white woman that allowed for the racist mob to lynch a black. They don’t use the real ropes much anymore, but use political ropes that have racial threads. Hillary Clinton acted like a real southern racist white woman when she said that she can carry the white vote in the states she recently won. That mere statement galvanized racist votes to her campaign – it’s that real. Racism is still a central motivating factor in elections and other social functions, and Hillary knew how to awaken the not so sleepy monster. 


Obama represents the idea that a black man can rule a country and be fair. This may be all he has to offer after they get through with him. Time will tell, but the racial structures in existence in Washington will not go away if he wins. There is even talk about him being killed if he wins. Remember just because your black doesn’t mean you are "black." Clarence Thomas is black by definition, but hardly black politically. I am voting for Obama, but I am under no illusions about the power of racism to co-opt, corrupt, and oppress. It is important that he be elected, but it is equally important that we understand the political dynamics of a country founded upon racism. We are not in a "post racial society,’ that’s pure foolishness. Racial profiling, police abuse, and Katrina tells me different, as does the battering of Rev. Wright (despite his foolishness of letting racism use him as a tool) and the hate mongering going on at talk radio.