Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Fear of a Black President,” released in the September issue of The Atlantic, should be required reading for anyone interested in race and politics. I would post this article in its entirely because it’s that good, but I know that most of us have short attention spans and a tendency to avoid longer form journalism. So, here’s a snippet:
In a democracy, so the saying goes, the people get the government they deserve. Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.
I wanted to believe that Americans had made a collective decision to enter a post-racial era with the election of Barack Obama, but the national response to his presidency would suggest that the road is still long. Ta-Nehisi’s piece is beautifully written and the above snippet is but a fraction of his overall argument. He provides the context by which to understand the response to the first non-white American President. He writes, “Race is not simply a portion of the Obama story. It is the lens through which many Americans view all his politics.”