(We interrupt this message to clarify that sentence one above does not indicate that I think there is anything wrong with a black man being President, or that I don't like black people, or that people ought to shoot at them, or anything like that, ok? Let me also clarify that I prefer the word "black" to "African American" because it's a lot easier to type. Let's move on.)
It's all sad because my disbelief says that in my heart of hearts I must be believing we are a more racist and hateful people than we really are - and since I am a generally positive person, and out loud I say I believe that people are innately good, it disturbs me that this other cynical, snide part of me thinks so poorly of American society. It's dark in the corners sometimes.
You've got to admit that it is astonishing that a country that has been so messed up on race issues could have gone so quickly from segregation and systematic, government-sponsored oppression, to electing a chief executive of mixed race. Two generations ago we were still classifying people as mulattos and quadroons and octaroons and such. There are people living today who witnessed - even took part in - mob lynchings of "uppity" black men. Just nine Presidents ago black people were still being sent to the back of the bus, to the "colored" water fountain, away from the restaurants and hotels that were for "whites only." One generation ago the leading man of black politics was Jesse Jackson - a guy with about as much chance of getting elected President as - well, John McCain, two weeks ago. Only 16 years ago (1992) white America was quaking in its collective boots as LA was torn apart by the race riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. How did we come so far so fast? Or have we really changed at all?