politics, race

Post-racial society? Not yet.

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.


4 thoughts on “Post-racial society? Not yet.

  1. Well said. I agree wholeheartedly. What baffles me is that in Canada, an Indonesian Muslim lesbian could conceivably — and relatively easily — become Prime Minister, yet a country as deeply entrenched in bias as the U.S. has beat Canada to elect a non-white leader (or at least not fully white, I guess). Kim Campbell is Canada’s exception to the lineage of white males, but she proves my point: if she could become Prime Minister, then why hasn’t an Indonesian Muslim lesbian yet followed? I’m impressed/surprised that in this matter, the Americans have shown a certain progressiveness that Canadians have not yet.

  2. SC says:

    I know this is a late reply but, better late than never, right?

    I agree with what you have written and would go further to point out that if the issue of race has really been tackled why are we even pointing out that he’s a black President? Race truly becomes a non-issue when we don’t mention it at all, when it’s normal to see an Asian, white, black, whatever, as PM or president.

  3. another thing to add that SO many people keep forgetting is that he’s bi-racial–as his mom is white, and to have people declare him a “black man” forgetting his other half just really goes to show how ridiculous racial classification is. let alone all the talk about his muslim connections b/c of his name. sorry america that it isn’t joe shmoe. yes, i would love to see a lesbian asian buddhist be president and am STILL waiting to see an asian american lead a hollywood blockbuster who doesn’t carry the name of jackie chan. andrea, what is it that you do in the media industry?

    anywho, andrea- i just came across your blog and really like it. thank you for your insights on food, race, gender, sexuality, wine, everything. i really appreciate what you have to share and look forward to reading more.

    p.s. if you’re interested, i also blog at seeconrun.posterous.com 🙂

    • Hi Connie, nice blog and thanks for kind words and your comment. To answer your question, I work as an interactive producer at CBC Radio and try to freelance as much as possible.

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