Friday, September 21, 2007

Race and the Presidency?

I'm not sure that I agree with this, but it's worth some thought:

Over at Tapped, Kate does some interesting work collecting the statements of presidential candidates on the Jena 6, and evaluating how they differ from Obama's. As she concludes, "words that Obama can't use include, but are not limited to: segregation, black, white, racism, criminal justice system, racial tension, and intolerance. He has to temper his statement as an inclusive, all-humanity call to action against injustice, rather than a call to action against a criminal justice system that is inherently racist and a white-dominated society where cases like Jena are still too-common."

I remember being in New Orleans for John Edwards' presidential announcement. He stood in a muddy backyard in New Orleans' 9th Ward, before a tableau of African-American children bussed in by the NAACP. One reporter wondered whether Obama could have announced his campaign in such an overtly racialized setting. "No," agreed the assemblage. That's the fun thing about running for President as a black man: You have to convince the electorate that you never really noticed you were a black man.

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