I didn’t vote. Why bother? Living in the deepest blue part of the bluest state, it’s pretty clear my vote will just be piling in with what will surely be a massive majority. As far as voting for change goes, New York’s ballot was in the box months ago.
Here’s the problem: “Dad, why didn’t you vote for the first black candidate for president?” Bit easier if I was at odds policy-wise (read Colin Powell). Lacking that, I’m left babbling electoral college math that sounds bogus even before it comes out my mouth. It’s a conversation I don’t know how to have. Okay, I voted after all.
It’s hard to believe we’re here — on the verge of electing the first black president. Our subway conductor on Halloween:
If you aren’t ready for change, get off the train
Next stop: first black president!
Let’s hope. But let’s also be clear on what it would say about the state of race in America. You need look no further than the current challenges in South Africa to see that electing a black president doesn’t magically generate the so-called post-racial society — particularly when your economy is in shambles.
Still, merely having a black presidential candidate has the nice byproduct of opening the floodgates for thoughtful reflection on race in the national press: places like The Atlantic and The Times. (Heck, even New York Magazine.) In the end, the piece that drives our continuing racial challenges home most clearly is a simple list contrasting Palin and Obama. A sample:
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay. (more)
So, it’s important to remember what it would mean to elect the first black president: it’s a statement on race, not a solution to racism. But what a fabulous way to make that statement. It would be a dream fulfilled. And I’ll be able to tell my kid I was part of making it happen. Vote!
Update: And it’s done.