Even as he was inaugurated this week, more than two months after winning election, people said they still couldn’t believe a black man was moving into the White House. But as we move further along in President Obama’s first 100 days – onto the 200s and then the 300s — the novelty of his race will gradually decrease in shock value.
After that, then what?
Will it be business as usual for many on both sides of the color line, retaining their preconceived notions and stereotypes about themselves and “them?” Will Obama’s ascendancy be limited to a mere political breakthrough, rather than an actual breakthrough in racial relations?
If so, we’ll waste a grand opportunity to heal our wounds and soothe our psyches.
Obama’s mixed heritage, leadership qualities, high intellect, multicultural supporters and beautiful family make him uniquely qualified to lead us away from the broad-brush generalizations that have plagued many blacks and whites.
Locally, where a study named Fort Myers as the South’s most segregated city a little more than a decade ago, Obama’s rise should remind blacks and whites that race doesn’t determine a person’s actions, abilities or attitude — no matter what part of town that person hails from.
Now’s the time to change any lingering inferiority and superiority complexes.