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Fear of a Black President - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

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Simply put, people in this country don't want to or like talking about race. It's an interesting phenomena.


Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.

What is it we could talk about?

that some Americans are more racist than they let on? what racism in the 21st Century means?

I think it's a piece of the puzzle towards a good future. Equalities -- or the lack thereof -- for people of different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientation and other seemingly-defining characteristic.

But, as we know, hiding from a tough conversation won't bring equality for any group.

You're right, it's better to have the tough conversations.

Maybe the debates can bring this kind of discussion?

Maybe not according to The Newsroom ;).

Challenge is, country seems mostly split on issues of equality, whether it's outspoken (gay marriage) or hidden (women, minority rights ).

I do hope the debates can bring out the best.

Generally debates do not change the minds of the masses. A person in a leadership role with the power to share his thoughts over and over again (we do need bricks to the head as humans) is likely necessary. That has been one of the bigger complaints against Obama from some. FDR, LBJ, Teddy, and Lincoln spoke a lot about the problems the nation faced.

I think we'll see a different Obama in term 2.

And I think that's what his opponents are afraid of.

Come to think of it, do people in *any* country like talking about race?

For people who identify as white there's not much upside to talking about race. Either they accidentally say something that gets them called racist or they stick carefully to pieties.

I think it would help to think of racism as specific actions rather than as a broad character flaw. Instead of being a racist, one does something racist. If you learn to not do that thing you stop being racist (in that way).

Not that the general character flaw of racism doesn't exist. There are people who are attracted to race-based nastiness and keep finding little ways to engage in it. Learning to not do those things wouldn't be appealing to them. But I think these people are a pretty small minority. Most racist acts are by people who'd prefer otherwise.

I agree with you both: nobody likes to talk about race.

Such conversation is sometimes necessary but it's rarely pleasant.

But now we're talking about it. #inception

My point -- as a young black man -- is that the article is a question (and answer?) about President Obama not discussing race; however, he doesn't discuss it because people wouldn't like him discussing it.

I rarely do (publicly) because I know it alienates people. :)

Y'know, I personally am not bothered by talking about race. I probably would be wise to avoid it. :)

I think there's a real truth behind Obama's point that he's the president of all America, not Black America. He kept race out of the election as much as possible, so he didn't get a mandate.

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