An elaboration on one of Steven’s posts from yesterday.
If the Obama candidacy has done nothing else, it has exposed the raw bigotry towards non-white Americans that lies just under a thin layer of civility to which many white Americans point when they claim that racism and racial prejudice are no longer significant problems in our society.
By every social or economic measure – education, income, incarceration rate, take your pick – there are huge disparities between African Americans and whites. There are two possible explanations for this: Blacks are genetically inferior or racism is alive, well and powerful in America. If you believe the latter the next question is: What do we do about it? The right has been content to say “we criminalized discrimination in hiring, housing, etc. Now let’s walk away and wait for racism to wither on the vine.” We’re still waiting. Attempts to continue to address these disparities such as busing and affirmative action were hugely controversial and have been largely discredited. What do we do next then? The right says, nothing. Those of us who can understand the statistics cited above or the evidence plainly in front of our eyes think we need to keep looking for solutions, painful though the process can be. If an Obama candidacy does nothing more than put these topics back into the national discussion he will already have served his country extremely well.