Following President Obama’s election in 2008, some declared that because America had just elected its first African American president, then ours must therefore be a post-racial nation.
It was pretty to think so at that time to be certain, but anyone with two eyes – both then and now – knew that such proclamations were at best naïve.
Granted, we’ve grown a lot as a nation since the Civil War and the Jim Crow south, but we’ve still got a long way to go, and it’s truly doubtful that in my lifetime anything will change that face.
Just last week a group of civil leaders in Minnesota decried the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball franchise has a roster of only 30 percent African Americans. The leaders accuses the Timberwolves’ management of intentionally building a roster of 70 percent white men in order to better attract business from Minnesota’s majority white population.
From the outside looking in , in a league that collectively earns billions and where nearly 70 percent of the players are African American, that’s a fairly absurd accusation.
No matter the fact that many of the white players in the Timberwolves are from Europe, where basketball continues to grow in popularity. No matter that the Timberwolves management attempted to sign two African American players over the summer who opted to sign elsewhere for less money where they thought a championship is more likely (for anyone who doesn’t follow the NBA, Minnesota hasn’t been very good the past couple of years).
And on the political stage last month, Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu noted Gen. Colin Powell, a former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, may have had ulterior motives for supporting President Obama when Sununu said, “You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for supporting President Obama…I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
And then there’s that recent Associated Press poll where 51 percent of the respondents noted that they harbor prejudices against black people. That’s up three percentage points from 2008, according to the AP.
So, despite the nation’s electing President Barack Obama in 2008, it’s obvious that America is far from a post-racial nation. This column was written prior to Tuesday’s election, so I’ve no idea how the race turned out as I write this, but we’ve certainly got some work to do, and right now Dr. King’s dream that people will be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin hasn’t come to fruition.
But there’s always tomorrow, and there’s always hope that someday our nation as a whole will cease to divide ourselves based upon something as trivial skin color.