Asking ‘Is racism over?’ not so profound

By Steven Schnarr

All over the news media and on the streets, people are asking the question, “Is racism over now that Obama is President?” and then responding (to themselves, it seems), “No.”

Here’s a different question: Who is asking that question in the first place?

On Jan. 19, FOX News asked, “Will the world look at black America and believe that because President Barack Obama was elected to the highest office in the land that racism no longer exists?” The Chicago Tribune seems to mention it in every article about Obama, with sidebars like “Race not over,” as if it were a profound statement. Even nationally, it is being repeated. IslamOnline asks the same question in the article “Racism as culture?”

The only people who believe that the election points to the end of racism are, most likely, the same stubborn people who believed racism ended in the ’60s. Most Americans wish that racism could be over, but there is no reason to believe it is over now.

Seemingly every media outlet keeps asking the same stupid question. Whether they are attributing it to liberals or conservatives, we don’t need to dignify them with a response. The answer should be assumed, “of course not” because racism is still very much a problem now as it was before the presidential inauguration.

People can feel the undercurrent of racism all around if they spend five minutes on the streets of downtown Chicago. We can see it in the workplace, where a majority of high-paid administration is white. We can hear it in a restaurant when a crusty old man mentions “those people.” The public doesn’t need the media telling them the answer.

By blowing this question way out of proportion, it seems as if some are under the impression Obama was only elected because he was black.

I don’t know anyone who said, “I voted for Obama to end the race problem.” And people who expect Obama to end the race problem have completely missed the significance of this past presidential race. It’s “yes we can,” not “yes I can.”

Like Obama has said, he doesn’t like to be seen as the “first black president,” rather, a president who happens to be black.

The significance of this moment is not that someone has come along to solve the race problem, but that race is not a problem when it comes to who will be the president. Obama was elected because the majority of Americans could see past race and vote for the candidate they saw as best.

Electing Obama was not an accomplishment; it is only a sign that democratic government is losing its restrictions when it comes to race. When people look at the election as an accomplishment, it only fuels the prejudiced fire. There are years ahead in which everyone will need to band together to slowly defeat racism by fighting poverty, looking beyond color and teaching individuals the necessity of freedom.

It is a ridiculous idea that putting a black man at the head of the state will solve the long surviving problem of racism. Racism is not a problem that starts with government anymore; racism starts with individuals choosing ignorance. Racism will not end when the percent of minorities in the country are represented by an equal percent of minorities in political office; racism will only end by changing the hearts of individuals, one by one, to trust in the truth of equality.