No Such Place as ‘Post-Racial’ America
Please, I beg you, stop using the bankrupt and meaningless term “post-racial!” There’s no such thing as “post-racial.” There’s no place that fits the description “post-racial America.” There’s no “post-racial era.” It’s a term for a concept that does not exist. There’s no there there.
We are not a nation devoid of racial discrimination nor are we a nation where race does not matter. Race and racism are still critical factors in determining what happens and who gets ahead in America. The election of Barack Obama ushered in this silly term and now that he’s begun running for re-election, I’m here to brusquely escort it out of the party called American English because it’s a con man of a term, selling you a concept that doesn’t exist.
If, as “post-racial” suggests, race no longer matters, then we no longer need to think about race or take the discussion of it seriously. In this way the concept becomes a shield against uncomfortable but necessary discussions allowing people to say or think, “Why are they complaining about racism? We’re post-racial.”
This barrier to conversation is dangerous in a nation where race and racism still matter very much. A place where black unemployment is far higher than white unemployment, where profiling and institutional racism and white privilege and myriad other forms of racism still shape so much of life in America. If we don’t need to discuss race then it’s allowed to fester and grow unchecked like an untreated malignant tumor. Race is an issue every American must care about. It’s not a black issue, it’s everyone’s issue. It’s relevant and important for whites because we all live here together and because the issue hurts everyone. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, or gets foreclosed, you have a problem. If your neighbor’s soul is on fire you have a major problem.
“Post-racial” is just one of several terms that only pervert and distort the discussion of race and give people who wish to disrupt the conversation a place to park their ideas. Others include “race card” and “reverse racism” and “race baiter.” The naïve term “race card” always refers to a black person racializing a situation that the person using the term thinks doesn’t need to be racialized. It’s as if race was not part of the situation, and no one was being black or white, and everybody was being color blind, and whistling sweetly, until a black person came along and ruined everything by pointing out race. But race is like weather—we only talk about it when it’s extreme but it’s always there.
Interestingly, “race card” is never used to signify a white person using race—as they do when they use the term race card thus trying to repudiate or silence discussion of race. I wonder why that is.
I suspect “post-racial” was born benignly from the hope that Obama’s electoral success meant that the racial problems that have long plagued America were over. Kumbaya. Surely Obama’s victory revealed something had changed in America, but it was not a signal that we’d reached the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mountaintop world where race no longer matters and equality has been achieved. During the Obama administration “post-racial” and “race card” and “reverse racism” have run amok like gremlins in the language, obfuscating race and making discussions about it harder. America still has so much work to do regarding race and racism and “post-racial” is only making that work harder to do. That’s why “post-racial” and its cohorts must be stopped posthaste.
Thank you, Touré
This from the prep-school alumni turned college drop-out who wrote “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?”
I would like to point out that the first wide-spread use of the term “post-racial” was by Obama supporters who referred to him by that term. During the 2008 primary and general election campaigns it was Obama and his supporters who were obsessed with the issue of race.
Only a complete fool would claim that racism no longer exists in this country. It will probably always exist.
When I was a child discrimination based on race was not only allowed it was required by law in many states.
During the past fifty years we have struck down or repealed racist laws and we have enacted laws prohibiting racial discrimination. Black people have risen to the top in every field of endeavor.
Yet in the last three years we have become more “racialized” than at any time since the Sixties. We are supposed to believe that the Republicans who never met a Democratic president they didn’t oppose suddenly started opposing Obama just because he is black. We’ve been told that the Tea Party is racist, opposition to Obamacare is racist, and supporting Herman Cain is racist.
Even liberals who voted for Obama are accused of being racist for being unenthusiastic about his reelection.
Maybe it’s time for us to start trying to be post-racial.
BTW – Blacks are approximately 12% of the U.S. population. Women are approximately 52%. Which do we hear more about, racism or sexism?