Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Post-Racial" America?

Selling Obamacare - July 22, 2009Image by Mark Sardella via Flickr

After enormous effort to shift the focus of Americans from the economic crisis to the unarguably important (yet tremendously complex) issue of health care, the Obama administration was (perhaps inevitably) derailed by a single reporter's question about the dust-up between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the Cambridge, MA police.

The question, "What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?" President Obama's impromptu response, "the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home" touched off a gasoline bomb in the media. A media, I would argue, desperate for the Next Big Story of the slow summer news cycle.

I find it unfortunate that the attention of the country has wandered from a unique historical opportunity (toward fixing a major systemic problem in American life) to tediously analyzing an off-the-cuff presidential soundbite. But perhaps this blog, and others like it, is a better forum for this issue of race, in an era some have argued is "post-racial" since the election of America's first African-American president. How would you answer the questions? Perhaps we can offload the debate from the shoulders of the politicians and get them to focus on more pressing issues?

Here's Jon Stewart's take on the media circus (warning: some explicit content):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
White House M.D.