8.13.2004

Race and the Race: The Illinois GOP's running of Alan Keyes against Barack Obama isn't the "battle royale" of "black versus black" that they expected, writes Siddhartha Mitter. "Instead, they've given us the past versus the future." The 11-year age difference gives Obama a distinct advantage:
Free of the hang-ups and hangovers of the 1960s, he is not beholden to the dinosaur organizations and icons that dominate African American politics. He can sidestep the tired debates about whether he's sufficiently black (for the militants) or too black (for the assimilationists). Instead, Obama's rise to prominence puts a public face on a new generation ascending to power, among whom racial mixing (black, white, other) is increasingly common; a generation of shades of brown and more boxes to choose from on the census form.

...Keyes can't push Obama's buttons because he doesn't know where they are. Obama represents an emerging politics that threatens to dissolve Keyes' bombast like garlic to a vampire: a post-black, post-identity politics that refuses to get bogged down in sterile "who can speak for whom" debates, refuses to be divided-and-conquered, yet also refuses to make believe that race no longer exists. In the post-identity politics that Obama's rise hints at, race is everywhere — and so is class, and gender, and all the other factors that sometimes drive us apart and sometimes bring us together. Post-identity politics is a work in progress, still figuring out its agenda and methods. But its emergence on the national scene is long overdue.
"Rich, white and wishy-washy." That's what a new ad campaign by People of Colour United--a group backed by J Patrick Rooney, a rich, white insurance mogul--calls John Kerry in a new ad. Another takes a potshot at Teresa Heinz Kerry for calling herself an African-American, despite the fact she was born in Mozambique.

A black George W. Bush: An interesting story about George W. Bush--the W stands for Washington--the first black pioneer to settle (in 1845) in what became the Pacific Northwest's Washington Territory.

2 comments:

Timothy said...

I think you're really on to something here with your comment about "refuses to get bogged down in sterile "who can speak for whom" debates, refuses to be divided-and-conquered, yet also refuses to make believe that race no longer exists."

What has become pretty obvious since the end of the 1960s and the rise of global communications, is that everyone is constructing their identity as they chose, from random little bits of culture. I only have to walk down the street in, say San Francisco to see Asian kids listening to hip hop in Korean next to a Black kid with a Chinese character tatoo. Syncretism. That's really the future, and, when you think about it, always has been. It's just a lot more obvious now than before, and happens that much faster.

Anonymous said...

exactly. reminds me of pico iyer's book "the global soul"...