When Pres. Barack Obama a black and bi-racial man was inaugurated in 2009 many Americans assumed (incredibly) that it signaled the end of bigotry and prejudice.
They assumed that America had finally ventured past race. They want to talk about it less. They call it post-racial. The idea and the hope to be past race is partly a hopeful social hype and partly a media creation, and is justly born of an exhale after a dream too-long-deferred finally came into being.
But toying with the idea and image of America having finally ventured beyond a race mindset frustrates me; those who do that aren’t dealing with reality! Entertainment tends to reflect that reality more effectively.
To use a line from an edgy Chris Rock bit, who’s more sick of America’s racial mind: white people or black people? Black people (or those who are treated like it); we hate it too, but have to deal with the weight and spoils of race. While there are consequences for it, Anglos (white people) don’t!
When we’ve moved past race, then the brownness, blackness, or caramel color of a person’s skin won’t make us think twice about grinning at and greeting strangers. The worst recent example of strangers clashing is when Trayvon Martin met George Zimmerman. The murder of Trayvon Martin and the not guilty verdict for his attacker, George Zimmerman, is only the latest and most offensive, memorable and evocative reflection of our racial, not post-racial, reality. Most perceptive Americans understand that we have not moved past that troublesome subject, that bogeyman, which is race.
Talking about race less often doesn’t move us past it or let it hurt us any less than it used to.
During a July 2013 panel discussion at the Newseum, broadcast on C-Span-3, a professor of rhetoric, a brown man, spoke about the belief one of his students that her world was post-racial. He told the audience that he wasn’t sure how to respond to that and her; he knew that she or her other classmates had noticed his color when they’d walked into class.
Yes. Will DuBois was prescient in describing the toxic color line and foresaw the crisis in 1903. Sadly, he wasn’t prescient enough. One hundred years later, in 2013, even with a black or bi-racial president and a soon-to-be majority minority, a zealous vigilante murdered a black man, was tried for, and finally acquitted of a crime for which plenty of evidence was against him.
We have not yet moved past “race.”