Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to equality

I can't be the only one noticing this strange trend happening in America lately.

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the country came together in a way not seen since 9/11. Sure, those who voted for McCain didn't become Obama fans overnight, but except for the pure racists out there, everybody seemed to be proud to live in a country that could elect an African American president. On that beautiful election night, I was more proud of my country than I've ever been.

But now something weird is happening. Now it seems like the pure racists have taken over, and they're influencing a whole lot of good people for the worse.

A recent example would be Mitt Romney calling Obama the "Welfare President," a veiled effort to associate African Americans with welfare in the eyes of voters, but this has really been going on since the beginning of Obama's term. This article from an online magazine called "The Root" tells the full story. Here's an excerpt:

Yes, the country that likes to pretend that it is far removed from its racist past has engaged in the verbal equivalent of a throwback jersey. Some people have reached far back into that Reconstruction-era closet, pulled out that dingy jersey adorned with racial slurs, shaken it out and put it on proudly. Elected officials have reduced themselves to behaving like petulant children, storming in and out of meetings and running to the media to lob personal attacks at the president, then offering lame apologies shortly afterward.

Is this the postracial era that so many people theorized about following the election of the nation's first black president? Try post-Reconstruction, because the harmful slurs and images being tossed around the Internet and in public spaces hark back more to a racist past than to a racially ambiguous future.

President Obama, through no blame of his own, has not united the country. He has divided it by giving the racists a reason to be loud, and by making borderline or closet racists more comfortable to act racist.

I can only hope Chris Rock, who I quoted on this blog a year ago at the height of the ridiculous Tea Party movement, is right:

"Kids always act up the most before they go to sleep. And when I see the Tea Party and all this stuff, it actually feels like racism is almost over... This is the act-up before the sleep... and next think you know they're f**king knocked out. And that's what's going on in the country right now."

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