The issue of race has come up many times–and in various guises–over the past 2 years of presidential politicking (I’ve written about it several times on this blog). This should come as no surprise given the historic nature of Barack Obama’s candidacy. When something truly historic happens for the first time ever a lot of folks honestly don’t know what to say or think. And sometimes they say things that in retrospect make no sense at all.
When Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama two days ago on Meet the Press Rush Limbaugh announced that Powell’s announcement was about race. The following day I saw Limbaugh on television responding to criticism of his comments by going even further. He said the endorsement was all about race; a black man endorsed another black man because he’s black. Pat Buchanan followed suit.
Here’s a question to ponder: if a white man endorses a white man is it also about race?
Another question: do white people even think about such things?
When we were on our family journey–that became Traces of the Trade and Inheriting the Trade–my cousin Elly said something I’ve never forgotten. We white people don’t think about hardly anything in relation to our “race” because we are “the default color.” I don’t remember what I said to Elly in response, but I sure have thought a lot about her words since then.
I recognize that people like Limbaugh and Buchanan make a living by saying things that gain as much attention as possible. They also want their political views and their side to prevail. I don’t know how they can claim to know what is behind General Powell’s decision. But that’s politics, right?
These words I now write have little to do with politics other than using it as an illustration to encourage readers to dig deeper beneath Limbaugh’s and Buchanan’s words. What role is race playing in the choices that people–of African or European descent–will make in this election? What difference will it make, in terms of racial healing, justice, and equality, whether Obama wins or loses on November 4?
Something truly historic is happening in this election for the first time ever. What matters most isn’t what’s being said by political pundits. It’s what going on in the ever-shifting thoughts of people throughout our nation.