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Obama and Racism

Eugene Robinson created an inspired and highly personal column this morning celebrating Barack Obama's election and its importance to African Americans. "Something changed on Tuesday," Robinson observed, " when Americans -- white, black, Latino, Asian -- entrusted a black man with the power and responsibility of the presidency."

His column is among the best-read articles on the site today and has drawn a flood of comments. By far the majority applaud and endorse Gene's response and affirm the joy and pride that many feel. There are also some comments that underline the continuing existence of racial stress in the United States. As is often the case with our Readers Who Comment, an unseemly remark is immediately challenged.

As all will remember, Obama himself confronted our nation's struggle with racism with his speech following the Rev. Jeremiah Wright flap during the campaign.

We'll start with ramellae, who wrote, "A ton of joy without an ounce of gloat. God Bless"

ebMelbourneAustralia said, "Eugene, the rest of the world feels it too. I could barely speak when I said to my husband last night that this election gives everyone hope. Hope that they can rise and be who they want to be... I am so happy for you. Well done America."

caribootroutfitters wrote, "You aren't the only one to "lose it". It's because this nation, the nation that I served in wartime, 41 years ago, has finally grown up. Nothing to do with "color". After so long, America has done "the right thing"."

dolph924 wrote, "Obama's election was personal for a lot of us old white folk as well...Yes, the emotions understandably had to be even more intense for blacks, but the emotion was there for millions of other Americans too. There also was an outpouring of emotion from all around the world as folks celebrated America reclaiming its lost soul."

db0366 posted early in the conversation and received many rejoinders after writing, "we also discovered that blacks vote the color of their skin ... the biggest racists in America are now blacks. You have come a long way!!! God damn America ... loud and proud"

eaglechik wrote one of those rejoinders, saying, "Funny...The GOP is probably 95% white and so are the people who vote for them. Would you dare say they are racist.?"

And emtahhsc8 said, "... it pains my heart to see how callous people are who do not understand. In this country that history started in the 1600's
Mr. Robinson... your emotions came from centuries of abuse. It's like walking a thousand miles along a dirt road and then you come to the end of your journey and a sense of hope wraps its joy around you. As I watched and listen to his speech, I cried and was filled with pride. Thank you"

charlietuna6661 sounded another theme also expressed by a few others in writing, "ok now..........everyone is equal......make sure everyone is treated equally more affirmative action or entitlements."

But tribute1 said, "Some comments on this page remind me of draining the puss from an infection...let all your racist feelings come out people, shout them from every corner, keep screaming them until your voices give out. Then we can have some peace."

tydicea wrote, "I am not much of a Jessie Jackson fan these days, but I saw that video image of him at Grant Park last nite. It is not hard to understand the overwhelming feeling that gripped him and millions of others. Jessie was witnessing the culmination of an unimaginable dream..."

But astrid2000 said, "I did not see Jackson's tears and seemingly emotional trauma as tears of joy. I saw them as tears of envy and the feeling of "it should have been me. I deserved it." To me it proves that you get more with an assertive well spoken word than a confrontational one, which has always been Jesse's trademark."

And hypnos123 wrote, "Great article that captures the moment that we all felt, except for the fake Jesse tears. Where there is a camera, there is Jesse... Forgive me for being cynical during this historical moment. However, it is great that we now have a true leader and not a self professed one."

bdstauffer wrote, "...I truly believe this guy to be a charlatan, who someone like Vladimir Putin will unmask. I really wish that it would have been someone like Andrew Young, as an example, or the late Tom Bradley... Obama, by contrast, is an empty suit..."

jenng observed, "...judging by some of the comments being posted, a post-racial America is still a distance out. The hysterics to both your column and Mrs. Obama's comments on being "really proud" demonstrates the divide we still face between Black America and White well as Asian America, American Indian America, Latino America, and so on..."

pierredubois wrote, "I am 57, white, and a southerner... I also voted for Obama, and had tears in my eyes Tuesday night watching the election results and his speech. We still, as a nation, have a long way to go, but we have come so far. I have never been more proud to be an American than what I am today..."

Travislai said, "As a black man, I think this election makes me feel once and for all that I am truly an American. I know it may sound absurd, but many black Americans feel like were looked at as outsiders, and not "real Americans" and you could see that in the rhetoric of the McCain campaign at times. I just feel vindicated and accepted as an American and it feels soooo good."

gasmonkey said, "Gene, you're a better man than I. If McCain had won I would have felt less love for my country; a lot less. We've been through a dark night of the soul these past eight years. Obama's election is morning in America. A morning of a whole new day, wherein we can see our nation achieve even more of the promise it holds..."

princesschalya wrote, "I am a Nigerian student in UK and sitting in front my TV...waiting for news that would either make or break my day... Today I saw a change that I could believe in as silent tears streamed down my cheek. Oh yes, A God was at work here and I deeply believed what mom always said - that hundred years is not forever!... "

pegtsag said, "So glad you could share this with your parents. I can't imagine what it must be like for them to witness this moment... Blessings to Obama and his family. They will represent all of us well."

szwheelock wrote, "...I believe to my soul that many if not most of the late "undecideds"... were people who had always sworn they would never vote for a black man who were still in the process of convincing themselves that this candidate deserved for them to do just that, and that many if not most succeeded... A lot of prejudice was faced down on Tuesday; a lot of souls were washed clean..."

We'll close with chuckandbecky, who wrote, "Enjoy the sunshine, Mr. Robinson. This time, there really is a morning in America, and we all have taken a giant step toward becoming our own best selves."

All comments on Robinson's column are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  November 6, 2008; 7:43 AM ET
Categories:  Obama , Racism  
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Whose bright idea was it anyway to broadcast, nationally, the code names that the secret service devised for the president elect and his family members? What's the purpose of a code name(s) if half the world is privy to whom or what those codes refer to? Wouldn't prudent safeguarding and security of the president dictate that those particular codes would remain, well...."encoded"? Look, we shouldn't compromise the safety of the president just for the sake of a story. I don't know which news agency is responsible for the blunder...but If you lack the creativity to develop original material that's newsworthy then I suggest you head back to Journalism 100--you know, the prerequisite for 101--and this time you should actually spend some time immersing yourself in the course material instead of cheating on the exams...then later on exposing us--the viewer--and the president to your lack of skill and journalistic good judgement.


Posted by: qwer1 | November 12, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I am originally from Haiti. I think it is only fitting that the First AA President America has ever had is not only the son of an African immigrant, but is from the multi-cultural city of Chicago, which is founded by Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, a freed black slave from the 1st Black Republic in the world, Haiti.
On a personal level, I too couldn't restrain myself from shedding tears of joy on Tuesday November 4th, 2008. I have been living in this country now from well over 20 years, and half of which as a U.S. citizen. While I never relinquished the opportunity to vote as an American, it's only been this past Tuesday I can honestly say I feel truly welcome as being an American.
Far too often, and you have heard the same comments being made too in those elections, one gets the impression that if you or your parents are not of European decent, you are not part of the "Real America" and will never be American enough.
I remember getting into a debate with a member of Democrats Abroad recently, and while he clearly knew of my U.S. citizenship status, and I guess because he didn't like my accent and the points I was trying to make, that couldn't stop him from saying that I wasn't American enough in his views anyway.
For us recent immigrants who came here in search of the dream, who have recently become U.S. citizens and are contributing in a positive way to the progress of this country, and in spite of our positive contributions and our citizenship status, we have never really felt accepted as Americans until today.
Whether you are of Asians, Hispanics, Africans and Caribbeans descents, and while we don't fully share the same emotion of the African Americans of this country because our roots are too new to understand the brutal history of slavery and the Civil Rights movements, we simply couldn't stop from showing our emotions on that special day.
After Tuesday November 4th, 2008, one gets the feeling also that the faces of the U.S. Presidents from now on will start to reflect the melting pot that America was rumored to have been until that Obama.

Posted by: JeanJak | November 6, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

My wife is from Jamaica, and is currently pursuing citizenship, a 3 or 4 year process. She could not vote, but as the election came down to the last few days, she became very quiet. When the returns from Virginia came in and networks started calling the race for Obama, she was at work at a restaurant. She erupted with joy and called her mom in Jamaica, who also began screaming with glee ovcer the phone. She texted me: "Even thogh I couldn't vote, I'm so proud to be "Jamerican". It occured to me at that moment how much more this race means, globally, to so many who have lived with diminished hopes all their lives. I had a feeling about America at that moment, that I haven't felt in a very long time, a genuine stirring of pride and happiness at my good fortune.

Posted by: kenhyde | November 6, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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