Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two Cheers for White America

Wednesday morning's New York Times had a subhead that I imagine was on the front of most American newspapers about Obama being the Democratic Party nominee: "First Black to Lead the Ticket for a Major Party".

Whenever I see the words "first black" to do anything, the implication is that this is an enormous achievement for black people, that we've broken through another color barrier.

In reality, the "first black syndrome" is an enormous achievement for white people. Since 1619 black people have known that we could do anything white people could do. It has taken white people almost 300 hundred years to figure that out. If white people had had their heads on straight it would have been obvious to them that Frederick Douglas would have made a far better president after the civil war than Ulysses Grant. If white people had had their heads on straight they would have known that W.E.B. DuBois would have been a far superior president to Woodrow Wilson.

But white people had this narrative stuck in their heads that they were superior to everybody whose skin was darker, and those of us with darker skins suffered the consequences. But slowly over the last almost 50 years that narrative has begun to change, and lo and behold, Barack Obama is the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States.

I want to congratulate white America on the progress it is making in seeing as people those of us whose skin color isn't white. I hope white America continues making such progress and helps elect Obama to be president.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


Psychomachy: A conflict of the body with the soul.

I was in a constant state of psychomachy for the first 50 years of my life!

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