Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last night and disappointment.

The victory of Obama is being hailed in many quarters as a triumph over the racism that has riven this country since the first slaves were dragged to this continent in the 16th Century. This notion of Obama as a black or African-American or person-of-color President is, in and of itself, a sign of racism.

I say this because as a nation we are still subscribing to notions of blood or racial differences and we have decided that a person who looks a certain way is, according to their appearance, their self-definition or the definition imposed by those around them belongs to a certain racial or ethnic category. In Louisiana, until recently, a black person was defined as anyone who had a drop of "black blood" in them, no matter how infinitesimal the amount. The metaphor that was used was simple, a can of white paint is no longer white if a speck of black is mixed in.

Plain and simple as a society we are sticking to eugenic notions of racial purity.

What makes Obama black as opposed to white, after all, he is as "white" as he is "black"? What we should be celebrating is the triumph of heterogeneity over homogeneity.

I suppose my problem with all this is we are upholding dangerous racist notions of blood and race. What happened last night wasn't a black man defeating a white man. It was a triumph of inclusion against exclusion, of liberal versus illiberal.