Many people foolishly believe that, with the election of President Obama to the White House, there is no more racism, otherwise he wouldn't have been elected. But that's wishful thinking. Life does not work on spontaneity. It works gradually over time. With that naive premise, they ignore the fact that a HUGE proportion of the South did NOT vote for the President, a proportion that went against the trend everywhere else in America. They deliberately voted instead for their white candidate, John McCain, in a clear vote on racial lines.
Since President Obama's election, one has watched with some sadness as the President's critics and detractors pretend they haven't got a racist bone in their body. Being used to having only white presidents in office, having a mixed race one set new precedents they did not know how to deal with, they felt uncomfortable with and rapidly resented. Instead their own racism has come to the fore while they delight in accusing his supporters of 'playing the race card', whatever that is. But let's look at some open evidence:
- He is not even allowed to do his job properly with the resources at his disposal.
Hardly anyone complained about President Bush and the number of plane rides he took, the holidays he had, or what he did with his time. That was accepted as part and parcel of being president. It comes with the territory and trappings. However, President Obama is expected to justify everything he does in the execution of his duties, to take fewer vacations and to ask before acting. At the back of all this is the concept of 'entitlement'. A white president, being perceived as the 'natural' leader, is ENTITLED to the trappings of his office. A black president has to earn it because no black person is entitled to be in that role. That's above his station. Not being 'entitled' in the eyes of his critics, he is therefore open to all kinds of criticism and judgements of his behaviour, even when he is simply doing his job.
America has an ugly legacy from slavery, that has left sporadic areas of covert and overt racism, which is not being dealt with, is pervasive in its influence and deleterious in its effects. Because some people refuse to face up to the fact that racism is alive and well in the country and is still affecting people's lives, there are sporadic incidents that keep reminding the population of that fact.
- The way everything written about him by the opposition becomes personal and tends to be associated with Jim Crow era, monkeys, or other open forms of racism. Again, he cannot be treated like his predecessors: to be criticised for his actual ACTIONS as commander in chief. It really has to be about him, per se because in their eyes, he shouldn't be the president.
- The amnesia around the eight woeful years of George Bush, while President Obama is expected to achieve miracles in three years, despite the awful legacy left to him and the trillions of dollars in deficit spent on a useless war. Bush's actions which did nothing to lift the country is almost being condoned to ensure President Obama gets no credit.
- The First Lady has been subjected to a barrage of criticism even though she has occupied herself with great causes to benefit the public. Not looking like how a 'real first lady' should look, no matter what she does, it will just never be right.
The Importance of Culture
We are shaped by our cultures, our communities and societies. No matter what is happening in our immediate families, we are more influenced by what is happening around us because that is what we see daily and experience. We all wish to belong and hence we choose the associations carefully that reflect who we are, what we think and what we hope to be. To pretend that how we live won't affect how we see the world, that die hards who did not vote for President Obama because of his colour would suddenly welcome him as an equal now that he is president, is simply wishful thinking.
The president might win their hearts, eventually, and maybe in the future when they look back at his tenure, but right now, while they are still smarting from defeat, while they are blinded by their own prejudices, they will not be treating him with the respect he deserves. After all, no matter how bad things were going in country, Bush was respected as the president of the United States. Yet this president, or his Office, is not being treated with the respect he deserves.
He is not getting the RESPECT automatically due to him because of how they perceive him (as unworthy of the office), how they judge him (he cannot be trusted) and their own sense of frustration; and wherever there is an absence of respect, you can bet your last dollar that there are other more urgent issues fighting to make it to the surface too.
Americans seem afraid to discuss colour. They prefer to pretend it doesn't exist; that people are not judged on colour; that people are not disenfranchised by it; that they are not treated badly because of it. Yet they do not treat gender that way. They really acknowledge gender as important (heck, no man would wish to be treated as a woman!). But fearing the issue of race and colour, as many do, the subject seems taboo. Yet anything that is not openly and honestly addressed simply remains dormant, festering over time and ready to break out. It never goes away because too much unfulfilled and frustrating emotions would become attached to it, ensuring that it is used as a subconscious excuse to exclude others and discriminate against them.