Ready? Not so.

Posted this up on my old blog, before I retooled it to make this one. I still like it though:

“Is the nation ready for a black/female president?”

This was one of the questions asked to students at UCLA for a political awareness project. The details of the specific project aren't that important; they were just collecting responses for later display. I walked by the board, saw the question, and wanted to answer. I just knew I'd need far more room than they were allotting.

So, are we ready? I think that the answer is no. We are not ready... not by a long shot. And the reason I believe this is as follows:

The mere fact that the question is asked proves we aren't ready. We still think it's a big deal if we have a black or female president. People have described the race between Clinton and Obama as coming down to whether people are more likely to choose a minority male, or a white female. The issue the invariably gets drawn up is one of their physical characteristics, not their policies/experience/etc.

But you know what? If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, and goes on to win the general election, his race is going to have NO bearing on how he is as a president. He's not going to wake up every morning thinking “I'm black, let's do this!” It might shape his stance on certain policies, but the only ones I can see his race playing into would be civil rights based ones. The same applies for Clinton (though with her gender, not her race, being the issue, obviously).

A friend of mine made a good point on this issue when we were talking about it. What we need to do is consider race and gender in the same manner as we do hair color. To paraphrase him (as I can't remember the actual wording),
“If Clinton gets elected, she'll be the first blonde president. Is America really ready for a blonde president?”
Obviously, this is a question that would be rejected as ludicrous if ever seriously asked. Yet the question about America being ready for a black or female president has merit?

That's the problem with our society. The civil rights movement has gotten to a point where there is so much attention being focused on where the “line” between people of different races and genders is at, that we are actually actively maintaining that line. What we need to do is erase the line completely. No more line. Your skin color should be treated no differently than your hair color. Your gender, your sexual orientation, your socio-economic status, all of those things, should have no more attention than your hair color.

We'll only be ready for a black/female president when that question no longer has any merit.


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