First things first, race relations in the US are still a sensitive issue. We are yet to reach a level as people where race is unnoticeable. Yet, I see a lot of progress. There is still a lot of segregation in the US and believe it or not, there is still a lot of prejudiced, dare I say, even racist people out there who will remain ignorant for the rest of their natural lives. But I have noticed one thing about the push for the presidential election in 2008. The two highest profile candidates that are being mentioned for the Democratic party are an African-American man of Kenyan Descent (Senator Barack Obama of Illinois) and a woman (Senator Hilary Clinton of New York). Wow. Two candidates of ethnicity or gender of which we’ve never seen in the oval office, and yet it is likely (if both decide to run) that one of these candidates will be representing the Democratic party in the upcoming election. I am actually surprised that more hasn’t been made of this (and rightfully so, it hasn’t). I just figured that a country hell bent on always selecting a Caucasian male to be the leader of the free world would gripe a little more about the events currently taking place. Maybe we aren’t as behind in race relations and understanding of cultures as everyone seems to suggest. Maybe, just maybe, we actually are going beyond the color of the skin and evaluating the content of an individual’s character. Just think about it, college football has long been scrutinized for their lack of African-American influence throughout, primarily in the issue of coaching. For the first time ever, the national championship game in college football will be decided by two teams led by African-American quarterbacks – and guess what, nothing has been said about that. I don’t even think that has even crossed the minds of the millions that are going to tune in to watch the game.
Back to politics, Hilary has to feel somewhat relieved that the issue of her gender will be somewhat downgraded because of her opposing candidates issue of race and ethnicity. To say the least, this will be an interesting issue to keep an eye on up until the 2008 election. Little will probably be spoken about this from the media, who will feel the need to be politically correct and focus on the issues, but the fact remains that we could see, for the first time ever, an African-American or a woman in the Oval Office. I cannot imagine the pressure that these two candidates are facing. One is holding the torch for all African-Americans while the other holds the torch for women. What if you are an African-American woman?? Where does your allegiance lie, where will your vote go?? Can you possibly be unbiased in your voting when both candidates support either of your biases??
Imagine going from good-ol’ boy George W. Bush who is known for his southern demeanor and macho bravado to an African-American man or woman. That is a transition that I feel will be strange, to say the least. More importantly, is this country ready for that??? Can we handle that?? I wonder how the campaigns for each candidate will play out and to what audience will they will reach out to. How will they go about garnering votes across the country?? I would like to see both run against one another in the Democratic primaries. That would be intriguing on multiple levels. That would test the ignorance of the public. Will people be able to disregard the race and gender of the candidates?? How far have we come??