Yes, race is still a factor four years later

I love when news stories like this come up in traditional news publications. Not only are they mostly superficial and  lacking in real deduction of the issue of race, they also reinforce what many black folks have already known: there are just some folks out there who just don’t like black people.

From the NY Times story linked above:

“Certain precincts in this county are not going to vote for Obama,” said John Corrigan, clerk of courts for Jefferson County, who was drinking coffee in a furniture shop downtown one morning last week with a small group of friends, retired judges and civil servants. “I don’t want to say it, but we all know why.”

A retired state employee, Jason Foreman, interjected, “I’ll say it: it’s because he’s black.”

For nearly three and a half years, a black family has occupied the White House, and much of the time what has been most remarkable about that fact is how unremarkable it has become to the country. While Mr. Obama will always be known to the history books as the country’s first black president, his mixed-race heritage has only rarely surfaced in visible and explicit ways amid the tumult of a deep recession, two wars and shifting political currents.

Breaking news!!! Not only does racism still exists in the good ol’ U.S. of A., but there are people who still won’t vote Obama the second time around because he’s a black man! Thanks to The New York Times for pointing this out because I just was just sure some white people had gotten over that whole race thing. More excerpts from this eye-opening article:

“I’ll just come right out and say it: he was elected because of his race,” said Sara Reese, a bank employee who said she voted for Ralph Nader in 2008, even though she usually votes Democrat.

Did her father, a staunch Democrat and retired mill worker, vote for Mr. Obama? “I’d have to say no. I don’t think he could do it,” she said.

But the main quarrels Democratic voters here have with Mr. Obama have nothing to do with race. They include his rejection of one proposed route for the Keystone pipeline, a stance they say will harm this area, whose backbone, the Ohio River, is lined with metal mills and coal mines.

And the economy, on the rise nationally, is still stuck here. About one in three residents in Steubenville live in poverty, double the national rate. Shale gas, which has begun to bring profits to some counties in Ohio, has yet to take off here, and downtown is a grid of empty storefronts behind dusty glass.

“The big word was ‘change,’ but there’s not been much of that,” said Christopher Brown, a union leader in Steubenville, who said more than 200 of his members were still out of work. “Members are saying, ‘What has President Obama done for us?’ ”As for race, he said, “It’s not on the front table, it’s in the back seat.” …

Many who raised race as a concern cast Mr. Obama as a flawed candidate carried to victory by blacks voting for the first time. Others expressed concerns indirectly, through suspicions about Mr. Obama’s background and questions about his faith.

“He was like, ‘Here I am, I’m black and I’m proud,’ ” said Lesia Felsoci, a bank employee drinking a beer in an Applebee’s. “To me, he didn’t have a platform. Black people voted him in, that’s why he won. It was black ignorance.”

Louis Tripodi, a baker in Steubenville who voted for Mr. Obama, blames talk radio and Republican rhetoric for encouraging such attitudes. “ ‘He’s a Muslim, he’s a socialist, he’s not born in this country,’ ” he said. “It’s got a lot to do with race.”

Race has also helped Mr. Obama. It increased voter turnout among blacks in 2008, and some younger voters said it was part of why they voted for him. But now that history has been made, it is less of a pull.

“It was kind of like a bandwagon that a lot of young people jumped on because it was history,” said Dee Kirkland, a 22-year-old working in a pizza shop in nearby Yorkville. “It was a fad to like him,” she said, adding that “race shouldn’t hinder you, but it also shouldn’t help you.”

Mr. Obama still has a number of enthusiastic supporters here. Diane Woods, the owner of Pee Dee’s Brunch and Bar, a diner in downtown Steubenville, described him as “regal, and presidential,” and said she would vote for him again because “when he talks, it makes sense to me.”

The fact that race came up at all in 2008 “really showed how divided we still are,” she said, cooking eggs one gray morning last week. “Blacks came out to vote for the first time because he was black, and you had all these whites saying, ‘Oh, there’s another vote from some drug addict.’ ”

I’m really honored The New York Times decided to finally publish something activists and bloggers like myself have said in the last four years since Barack Obama became a household name: there are certain white people out there who simply won’t like the president because he’s black. I mean, we black folks just had no idea that there are a small minority of people who simply won’t vote for the president because of his race. I can’t help but to give The New York Times a major side eye on this article.

The cold hard reality that some people will simply not like a black person because of his or her’s race is something that’s been instilled in black folks since they are old enough to begin to ask questions about race and racism. It’s something I’m sure the president had to learn while coming of age and it’s something he and Michelle Obama have expressed to both Sasha and Malia.

While I think the newspaper did a wonderful service in exposing the latent racism hidden in the mindset of these individuals in deciding who’ll they’ll support in November, I felt the article was lacking in discussing why people have these racist feelings about Obama and, consequently, black folks in general. The article left me wanting to know more about the demographics of the county and whether there had been a history in the county of racial tensions.

The article read like the same superficial news analysis on racism in America: some white people hate black folks and it’s the role of journalists to not only portray this reality as the feelings of a small few, but it’s also the part of the news business to find a social commentator to provide the most delicate reason as possible on why racism remains a plague. In other words, this article not only makes whiteness feel okay about racism being a problem of a small few, it also soothes the feelings of whiteness in reassuring white people that they are genuinely good people, despite the majority of them tolerating and accepting their own racial biases.

The reasons those quoted in the article on why they have problems with Obama’s race were not even explored, so the reader is left with a lingering question of why these staunch Democrats would feel so strongly about Obama’s race that they’d consider breaking political ranks and voting for other presidential candidates.

What did you think of The New York Times’ article?

One thought on “Yes, race is still a factor four years later

  1. well, duh New York Times.     Still in denial that you reek of vanillacentric privilege and are in denial you still benefit from it. 

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