Toward ‘a Post-Racist Future’

Professor and author Michael Eric Dyson provides a useful corrective (Los Angeles Times, 11/5/08) to a particularly damaging campaign media theme:

Contrary to many critics, his election does not, nor should it, herald a post-racial future. But it may help usher in a post-racist future. A post-racial outlook seeks to delete crucial strands of our identity; a post-racist outlook seeks to delete oppression that rests on hate and fear, that exploits cultural and political vulnerability. Obama need not cease being a black man to effectively govern, but America must overcome its brutal racist past to permit his gifts, and those of other blacks, to shine.

Our belief in Obama must become contagious; it must spread and become a belief in other blacks who have been quarantined in racial stereotype. Regarding Obama as an exceptional black man–when he is in fact an exceptional American–hampers our whole nation’s desire to clear the path to success for more like him. Obama is not the first black American capable of being president; he’s the first black American who got the chance to prove it.

Dyson further writes that “we should not be seduced by the notion that Obama’s presidency signals the end of racism, the civil rights movement, the struggle for black equality or the careers of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.” In fact, Dyson observes that “Obama is able to be cool and calm because leaders like Sharpton, at least in the past, got angry.”

See item No. “6. Obama Wins, Sharpton/Jackson Lose” in the FAIR Media Advisory: Top Troubling Tropes of Campaign ’08: The Media-Created Narratives That Derail Election Coverage (10/20/08)