With President Obama’s historic win in 2008 and his reelection in 2012, America can proudly say it has been headed by an African American for 8 full years. Some people, mostly white, believe that these historic moments signified the end of racism, because of course, why would a racist country allow a black man to run the entire nation for 8 full years? Others believe that because of his presidency racism has reoccurred, and that his presidency actually incited more racism towards black people, and that he sparked a “race war”. However, of these assumptions are truly, madly, and deeply wrong.
To tackle the first assumption, that racism ended with President Obama, here is a little story to see the flaw behind this logic. Say we have two families, A and B, living in a small town. Family A have always had legally given societal privileges, and never had to fight for their basic rights. Family A have people like them as the primary models in the local media, movies, and even in local politics. Now Family B had to fight for their rights and basic societal privileges, and barely have any depictions of them in the media, or anywhere in their town. They also have faced discrimination from people from similar backgrounds as Family A, and still do. However, one child from Family B goes to school, becomes a lawyer, and later comes back and is voted the town mayor.
Family B and members similar to them still are being discriminated, and try to convince Family A and others of the difficulties that they face. However, Family A states since the town mayor is from Family B and was voted in by the town population, there isn’t any discrimination that Family B faces. Now, think of Family A as white Americans and Family B as black and minority Americans. Just as in the story, where President Obama is the child from Family B, his election did not automatically end the discrimination his people faced, but allowed for the issue to be better represented and brought to the forefront of national topics. An election cannot change racism overnight, persistence, legislation, and the spread of knowledge can. By being ignorant to the continuance of racism, people are actually helping racism become more prevalent in our society.
For the second assumption of a supposed “race war”, there can only be one debate to this idea: it’s not happening. Racism has actually not occurred more during President Obama’s presidency, but has been nationalized and at the forefront of media topics, and directly in front of white people. With more and more incidences being filmed and spread online, these acts of police brutality and discrimination are not brought on by the president supposed “race-baiting”, but by people knowing their rights and the possible outcomes of the confrontations. In the words of Will Smith, “Racism isn’t worse, it’s being filmed.” White Americans, and most notably Republican politicians, have said that there is a current “race war” against white people, which is a blatant example of media influencing and misleading the public.
American minorities are fighting for basic rights, better policing, and legislation that protects a vulnerable population, not to create a war to dominate the white people. Quite simply, minorities want to be treated as the majority white population, and as current legislation and policies do not always allow for this, minorities are fighting for policies that accomplish this. To imply that a war is occurring is to demonize and criminalize a movement meant to peacefully advocate for an oppressed group. A war symbolizes mass violence, death, and ultimately a single victor, while the movement stands for peace and equality for all Americans, and attempting to label it as such, and blame President Obama, is highly offensive and inflammatory towards the movement and the people behind it.
President Barack Obama has made history, but not by being the destructor of the systemic racism in America, or the recreator of American racism. He is neither the savior or the scapegoat of the racism in America, and once some member of the majority population of American realize this, racism can finally be addressed and acknowledged as a system ingrained in America itself, and take steps to officially reduce, end, and prevent future discrimination from occurring in our country.