Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Race is On!

It looks very much like Sen. Obama is about to wrap up the Democratic nomination for President. The AP has called the race, and other networks have him within a handful of delegates. It seems like years ago when John Edwards headed to New Orleans instead of Atlanta, and announced that he was suspending his campaign so that "history could blaze it's path." And, blaze it has. This has been a very long road, but it did not begin, as some have suggested, 18 months ago. It began decades ago.

I grew up in the 1960's. One of my earliest memories is JFK's assignation. Then Martin. Then Bobby. Scenes of the civil rights and anti-war marches filled the evening news and were imprinted in my memory. Fire hoses, dogs, burning bras, students shot dead. Our best selves and our worst selves, exposed. Progress was messy, dangerous and required tremendous courage. It still is, and it still does.

Both Clinton and Obama are products of that struggle. But, this is not the pinnacle; the struggle is not over. Just as before, when progress toward equality is made, a light is also shown on our lesser selves. And, there is no question that this race has and will continue to bring into focus not only our progress with regard to civil rights for both women and minorities, but our prejudices and our failings.

My day started with a political call where the issue of "race" in a race was discussed, and my day ended with a political call where the issue of "race" in a race was discussed. Sunday, I attended a dinner where the first speaker promised not to talk as long as "Hillary Clinton" and another person, a strong Democrat, looked at me with a pained expression and said, "What are we going to do about the presidential race?" She went on to opine that many of her local leaders are "black" and "incompetent." Never mind Harvard Law Review. Somehow, the merely the color of his skin made Obama the same as some ineffective or corrupt local official. And, Clinton, obviously, like most women, talks too much. So, we have a hill to climb. We can write those people off as disgusting or bigoted, but, they will vote in November. These stereotypes are woven into the fabric of our culture, and whether we acknowledge it or not, in this election, we are about to do battle with our own prejudices and those of others as we face this test of our progress.

But, for today, let's just enjoy this historic moment.

1 comment:

Tina said...

We have had two really fine Democratic contenders who have kept the Democratic party in the spotlight for many months. So far as media coverage is concerned, Democrats really stole the show ! Historic changes are taking place. Some people will be able to move along with change, some will be "drug" along and some will be left behind.