Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Acting White: The Race Card And Politics in America

Now that Hillary knows that Obama is real competition for the White House we should expect to see some fancy race-card playing. Fancy because it’s no longer status quo white men selling messages from the same demographic perspective. And despite assurance from all sides to bypass racial politics, race as a foremost issue in this country will not be denied its place in determining, in part, who leads.

Many people find the role of race in politics disturbing, but why shouldn’t race have a role? Everyday, in every nook and corner of our lives, race ‘colors’ our positions and behavior. If you think you are past the race game, just picture you son or daughter, sister or brother, in an intimate relationship with someone from another race. If that thought does not conjure up a bunch more thoughts on what they and you can expect, good and bad, then you are not being honest.

What’s new is that no longer are we narrowly wondering if the white male candidates will truly include the rest of us in 'their' American show. We can also wonder if its payback time, or if we can be rightly served by other than a good-ole boy, with a good-ole (hopefully) heart. It does not hurt that Bush, the younger, has laid a perfect table for change and trying someone new.

But before we get to the point of laying the race card truly to rest, we must be able to look at race for what it is, a superficial indication of real differences. Not of real genetic difference that drives us to wall ourselves from each other, but rather of real social differences that show all the pathways human history has taken over the last 10,000 years. Some of those differences represent advances that we should embrace, while others reflect social retreat best discarded, but always remembering that it is difference that is the competitive pulp of what advances humankind as a whole.

So as politicians play the race cards from closer to the top of the deck, perhaps there is a positive that people will get more sophisticated about the issues of race and what is really good for them. We know that pretending to deny race cards dealt from the bottom of the deck is currently getting us nowhere fast.

James C. Collier


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check out today's WSJ editorial,
"Hillary and MLK" here:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120044560487392853.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries