Monday, May 12, 2008

Fear of a Black President, Pt 249

He's a Different Color but We're the Same Kid, I'll Treat Him Like My Brother and He'll Treat Me Like His - Spencer Ackerman

Breaking from his normal foreign policy blogging Ackerman made a good decision in pointing to a John Judis article on racism in American politics. The conclusions of the Judis piece are not surprising--that latent racial bias still exists among many whites. What Judis is arguing here is that Sen. Obama must contend with such latent racism. Overtly racist attacks and ads will not work but dog-whistle types will among the working white middle class.
But Judis' argument reaches farther than the politics of the current election cycle. Relying on a good deal of research done in the past twenty years, Judis finds that a latent bias is prevalent among nearly every American. However, this bias is subtle and not easily drawn out. Where some might find this evidence of bias damning of the white middle class, I view it as a sign of progress since the Civil Rights era. It says, as Judis argues, that overt racism is not an acceptable social norm.
It also says that any remaining racism is so buried in the minds of people that when they do exhibit racist tendencies it is done so unconsciously. Being on a few generations past the Civil Rights era this is naturally expected. My generation, I believe, holds less latent racism than the last and the next generation, if the trend holds, should have even less unconscious racism than mine. What this points to is the potential for a time when even latent racism begins to disappear. The election of a black president will do a great deal of good in moving Americans away from this type of racism. It's not a cure-all, for certain, but it does prove that blacks can accomplish great things. Such a notion can embed itself in people's minds to the point that the latent racism is negated in many ways.