This couldn't be a more no win situation for Obama. Liberal folks like myself want him to name the beast of racism and call us out collectively. People of a more conservative stripe want him to pretend that we are that beautiful shining example of a colorblind society that offers equal opportunity to all. You should pardon the expression, but it just isn't that black and white. We will spend weeks parsing which parts of this interaction belong to us as a society and which pieces belong to the individuals involved and probably still not understand the realities of the other side of the racial divide.Truer words were never spoken this week, Jake.
What intrigues me in these various opinions is that many of them seem to feel that Obama (and Sonia Sotomayor in her confirmation hearings) must abandon their own history/experience and the mental filters that creates and make all their "official" decisions through the prism of the default or "normal" setting of white, male, middle class and center right. These folks never acknowledge that this point of view arises due to a set of unique experiences that are no more or less valid than Obama's and Sotomayor's. This assumption of a default setting creates a blind spot in the collective consciousness where people can not even imagine how someone could see a situation differently. It is the O.J. Simpson trial all over where the ground between the polarized views is sparsely populated indeed. It is a considerable threat to have one's core assumptions called into question and so we should expect more squawking from those who want the default setting to remain invisible and assumed.
The process of racial understanding must begin with the realization that my truth might not be the truth or that there might be multiple truths in one situation. Scary stuff.
Something to definitely think about. I honestly don't think the country is ready for a person of color to be President yet. The comfortable assumptions of quite a few people are being challenged by Obama's election. As a country, we're still struggling to adapt, but adapt we must.
Kicking and screaming, we are all being dragged into uncharted territory here.