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Has America Become a Post-Racial Society?

January 21, 2010

by Sarah Michele Ford

Today is the first anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration. Depending on who you ask, today is the first anniversary of the inauguration of America’s first Black President, first African American President, first mixed-race President. That election happened less than forty years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose legacy we honored earlier this week.

Barack Obama’s election has been heralded by some as a watershed moment in the history of race relations in America; some have even argued that his election is a sign that we are now living in a post-racial society. If we elected a Black man to be President, the logic goes, clearly we have reached a point in our history where race no longer matters. But is this really true?

In order to start answering this question, we first have to understand what the term “post-racial” (or “color-blind”) society means. The simplest explanation is that, in a color-blind society, everyone is treated equally regardless of their racial/ethnic identity. They are treated equally in terms of income, education, interpersonal relations. A color-blind society is one without racism.

Sounds like a lovely, idyllic world, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the facts on the ground do not bear out the argument that, by electing the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, we have erased the remnants of the long and ugly history of race relations in the United States. For example, just focusing on issues of housing:

Doesn’t much seem like race doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

We could look at issues of employment, access to education, and numerous instances of blatant racism, and see basically the same patterns. From where I sit, it sure doesn’t seem like President Obama’s election means we’ve reached a point where race no longer matters.

What do you think? Did President Obama’s election point to a fundamental shift in the significance of race in America? Or is it going to take much more than that?

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9 comments

  1. I don’t believe that we are in a post racial society because there are some people who are excited about the new president(both black and white)and then there are others who thinks it is the worst thing that ever happened and he’s going to destroy the country. I don’t see anything wrong with having a black president nor do I have a problem with people who are in relationships with people of a different race. I just wish that one day the whole world can be on the same page and let the race issues go because a lot of people have issues with it.


  2. I would like to express that I completely agree
    with everything that Tenisha Rawls stated.
    I am a white girl with black friends, but I
    don’t believe that we are in a post racial
    society. I have heard many different views
    regarding Mr. Obama. Whether or not I agree with
    Mr. Obama’s actions, I continue to pray
    for him as leader of our country. I believe
    that we should treat all people the same.
    I certainly hope to see a “colorblind” nation
    in the future.


  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  4. It exclusively your opinion


  5. hey i am looking for some con comments for my social study class. we are doing a deabate on it. so you guys please help me. thanks.!!!!!


  6. Until about 70 years ago the blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. Why do you suppose that was? The blacks are an inferior race other wise they would have not been slaves. All the school test scores prove that. Whites who marry blacks will have test scores half way between.


    • Well it’s true that there have been laws that support segregation of the races, this in no way supports your view of blacks as an inferior race. First of all let’s dispense with the myth that blacks are the only ones that have been enslaved. Anyone with a cursory look through help history can readily prove all color and creed has been subjugated by one class or another for a myriad of purported rationale.

      If as you purport, that blacks are racially inferior, then one only needs to look at technology in the departments of science to see the leaps forward made by black men and women. If you are intellectually honest, and my fear is you are not, you of your own accord would come to the realization that you can’t paint a broad brush over any color or creed. We all possess talents which are God-given, that is if you believe in a God that is not a racist or to include that in your argument? So I pose you the same question, why do you suppose that was?

      My final point, you with your conjecture, and pontification clearly must find yourself among the lower rungs intellectually of the white class and a half breed i.e. intellectually speaking. A brain bread with a half cocked idea. As they say enough brains to make yourself dangerous. You forget the facts or avoid them entirely, which makes you either stupid, or led by the nose by someone in your life with a more powerful personality than your own that you so easily incorporate such dimwit in your public speech.

      An old Chinese proverb would be appropriate: better to to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool, then to open it and remove all doubt!


      • I’m not sure he’ll get that message since he posted it over two years ago, but you’re right. I’ve seen more of that kind of blatant hatred in the past few years, and I think that these types of people feel threatened that Obama became President. It’s a huge blow to their previous beliefs about their own superiority, and I think the only thing they are left with is using an obsolete slur to make themselves feel better. But you know what’s weird here? I swear sometimes that Obama was put into power by the “higher ups” for the sole purpose of calming the masses when new laws are written that intentionally violate Civil Rights. Look at what happened with the Supreme Court nonsense regarding voter ID laws. Exactly the same time as the Zimmerman verdict, and people were outraged over that verdict, but should have been outraged about the southern states blatantly showing their true colors …again. At first I did believe that we were entering a post racial society, but I was wrong big time. Now it is crystal clear that there are a couple more generations that need to kick the bucket first. After that I suppose it’s possible that the racism will still be with us, only directed the other way this time.


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