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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; They’re Bringing the Grandkids

April 19, 2008

Leon Walker is a TNTalk! contributing writer. You can look for his columns at least every Saturday “write here on TNTalk!” To find out more about Leon, check out our writers page.

Lately I have been entertaining myself laughing at the national media and the Clinton Campaign. They are languishing in confusion over why Senator Barack Obama is destined to win the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. The analysis continues fail at predictions and the negative political tactics just won’t stick. They are absolutely dumbfounded. I will start by stating simply, that they are just too institutionally conditioned. The media pundits and traditional politicians who claim to have their finger on the political pulse of America have totally missed the mark. Totally!

The first massive mistake that the media and the Clintons have made is that they are convinced that on some level this contest can be negatively influenced by injecting race. In fact, the opposite is true. The one thing this contest has already clearly told us is that Senator Obama’s voters “are determined not to permit this to be about race”. Why? Because they absolutely do not see it that way. Many Black and White Americans just don’t see things thorough such a simplistic black and white lens anymore. The media and the Clinton’s cannot understand or accept this because they are locked in a myopic world and mindset that says this cannot be. You see they understand the racism, what they don’t understand is the absence of racism. The truth is, I only just figured this out myself. Being African American I started thinking about who Senator Barack Obama represents to me, and I believe many other Americans, regardless of their race.

In 1967 there was an award winning movie called “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” released, staring Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Poitier and Eleanor Parker (I believe) a White actress were a dating couple of different races and Tracy was her father. The movie was considered extremely controversial as Blacks and Whites lived for the most part, worlds apart socially in America at that time. There was racial separatism that would be unfathomable today. Fast forward to 2008 and consider these names: Derrick Jeeter, Mariah Carey, James Blake, Halley Barry, Tiger Woods and yes, Barack Obama. These names are intended to represent a miniscule number of examples of something that has taken on mammoth proportions in these United States of America. Just consider that all of the aforementioned are in their thirties and forties, meaning their parents are “Baby Boomers” and meaning also that those I have named have, or certainly could have children of their own. People of blended ethnicity are everywhere! I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio but currently live in a relatively small town of sixty thousand people in Northwest Florida. Even here, you can scarcely go anywhere without encountering an inter-racial couple or a child of blended ethnicity.

Let’s take this one step further. Men and women of different races have been marrying and having children of blended ethnicity “in significant numbers” over the past forty years and at all socioeconomic levels. It follows then that they, and their children (now adults) have friends, peers, associates, coworkers and relatives of various races that admire, respect and love them. And now the third generation has arrived. There are kids adolescents and adults who look like Barack Obama all over the place. We have kids who look like Barack Obama at our Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings, on our children’s, soccer and tee-ball teams and at their birthday parties and in classrooms and in our churches. Some are our children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren and they don’t look anything like us. America is undergoing a sweeping social change as the races blend and many of our artistic, intellectual and sports icons, across a broad spectrum are representative. Senator Obama is no exception.

Much of White America is voting for Senator Obama simply because they think he is a magnificent candidate. And I am convinced that his being Black has no bearing as it is just simply not of consequence due to education and the experiences and attitudes of obviously a great many White Americans today. This is a tremendous dynamic that transcends politics because there is no existing political model. These are uncharted waters politically and also dangerous waters for the traditionalist. First, they don’t see what is happening so they don’t understand why the cause and effect of injecting race is failing. Secondly, they don’t understand that you apparently can’t exploit a qualified person of blended ethnicity racially in politics today. It simply can’t be done without (in the case of Senator Obama) receiving the wrath of both sides of his ethnic voting blocks. His largest base includes blocks of young and older educated Whites that not only have close personal and professional associations with Blacks but who more importantly, just don’t see race through any demeaning or uncomfortable lens. The “race card” represents an insult or personal affront to them and they are intelligent enough to see and understand overt and covert negative politics versus reality.

Then there is the Black Community which essentially has two voting segments in my view. Those that support Senator Obama because he is a stellar candidate of tremendous achievement and impeccable credentials and of whom they are very proud. I absolutely do not believe there are significant of those who support him simply because he is Black or it’s finally our turn. Senator Obama does not fit that mold. Remember this is the guy that some said was not Black enough. That ploy failed as well. I do believe there is a very small segment of those who do not support him because he is not White (sad but true) or because they are envious or self serving. There may also be one or two Black Clinton supporters on the planet somewhere. There is one other very significant dynamic related to the Black Community social growth equation. They too are being more intensely exposed to White American culture in growing numbers. Particularly in the middle class and they share many of the same aforementioned attitudes and values. So the same relations, attitudes and associations that I addressed about Whites above, have also taken a comfortable hold in many Black families and communities. Additionally, with each new generation, (mixed ethnicity) is now becoming more of a comfortably normal byproduct of modern America. Most American Blacks have White bloodlines which (for many) represent a stain of oppression and slavery, and creates a basis for identifying exclusively with their African roots as the basis of our ethnic definition and proud culture. Many also grapple with this in the “mixed or biracial discussion”. Nonetheless, Senator Obama has unquestionably shown himself to be on solid and ethnic ground both internally and externally and has always been embraced by Black voters and the Black Community. A positive indicator of his prowess as a uniter.

I want to make it clear that I am not attempting to have a discussion about racism or civil rights. There are still Blacks and Whites and those of other ethnicities who remain rigid and disapproving simply on the basis of race. And there are those who are stuck in the same racial rut to the point that they can’t see the positive when it presents itself. And yes, there are still areas of racial disparity that require attention. There can be no question of that.

The opinion I am providing herein is not about the “race factor” in politics or this specific Democratic campaign. It is very pointedly about the lack thereof. Americans are interacting, changing, blending and becoming parts of White, Black and other ethnic families and communities and therefore having a visible positive impact on each other. Direct and personal impacts on a beneficial emotional and intellectual level. Change in this country has been significant in the past forty years and we the American people are now discernibly living our lives across cultural lines. This political season has produced a litmus test that no one intended but the results of which are undeniable.

What Senator Obama has accomplished in this political campaign says much about the man that he is. But more importantly, what Senator Obama has accomplished in this campaign speaks volumes about America! America is evolving and Americans wants change. The people have transcended race and united in support of the candidate of their choice. These same people are appalled at the condition of this nation and are galvanized in demanding change.

There is no media analysis that could have predicted or altered this, not even with a zillion broadcasts or video loops. There is nothing in the traditional political bag of tricks that can impact or manipulate this. For ratings and votes, they were determined that at some point they would be able to make it about race. But the American people created the perfect storm and the Clintons and the media never saw it coming.

Somebody send Hillary and Bill a DVD of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.

L. A. Walker

© Leon A. Walker, April 15, 2008

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