No one could ignore Tracy Morgan when he stepped in front of Tina Fey and accepted 30 Rock‘s Golden Globe for “Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.” “Tina Fey and I had an agreement that if Barack Obama won, I would speak for the show from now on,” he said, clutching the statue. “Welcome to post-racial America! I am the face of post-racial America.”
I realize Morgan is an entertainer and no more a political pundit than you or me. But he isn’t the only person who has been touting the arrival of a post-racial society, the end of racism or the idea that any child—no matter what race, religion or gender—can be president one day.
Whenever I hear one of these suggestions, I chuckle at its naivety and then get angry. This is a post-racial society? How disappointing. Anyone can be president now? That is just laughable. People sure were quick to forget how much Obama was criticized for his past connections to Islam.
How different would today’s inauguration be if Obama were actually a Muslim man? If he were gay or a woman? What if he were a Christian man who had a father of Indian, Chinese or Native decent? He wouldn’t have been the Democratic nominee, let alone the American president.
The people who talk about Obama as proof that anyone can be president have a narrow view of what race is. We, the people are not one of two categories. We are not black or white. We are not just Christian or non-Christian. While people of colour share some similarities, each group has its own unique experience. A black man may be in the White House but we haven’t been able to get an Asian lead character on television since Margaret Cho—and that was 14 years ago!
I am excited for Obama’s presidency. This is the kind of change the world needs, but I urge everyone not to be idle. This is only the beginning. If we work together, one day we’ll burst through the glass ceiling, cross racial lines and find that an Indonesian Muslim lesbian can be the face of a post-discrimination America, just as much a black Christian straight man can be.