Black America, of course, is diverse. Some black conservatives -- columnist Thomas Sowell or Ken Blackwell, former secretary of state of Ohio -- will undoubtedly be delighted by an Obama defeat; he is, after all, their ideological foe. But there are also black leftists who oppose him. Writing in the Progressive magazine, Prof. Adolph Reed of the University of Pennsylvania urges voters to reject Obama (as well as McCain) because he is a "vacuous opportunist" who, like Bill Clinton, conservatizes the leftward end of the American political spectrum. A close variant is the camp of blacks who will be relieved by an Obama defeat because they fear that his victory would misleadingly suggest that America is no longer in need of large-scale racial reform. Still others, who believe that Obama has hurt himself by seeking the political center and declining to be more forceful in voicing a progressive alternative to the Republican ticket, would feel somber vindication.Two things Kennedy doesn't say: 1. Much of Obama's success has come from white people who have a very positive attitude about the prospect of the first black President. 2. Some of Obama's success occurred because of resistance to the idea of a woman President. 3. White Democrats have also lost in years when people thought the Democrats were somehow destined to win.
There are blacks who'll be indifferent to an Obama defeat because they don't think that the outcome of the presidential race will have any real effect on their miserable fates. Others, protecting themselves against the pain of disappointment, have systematically repressed expectations....
If Obama loses, I personally will feel disappointed, frustrated, hurt. I'll conclude that a fabulous opportunity has been lost. I'll believe that American voters have made a huge mistake. And I'll think that an important ingredient of their error is racial prejudice -- not the hateful, snarling, open bigotry that terrorized my parents in their youth, but rather a vague, sophisticated, low-key prejudice that is chameleonlike in its ability to adapt to new surroundings and to hide even from those firmly in its grip.
If Obama is defeated, I will, for a brief time, be stunned by feelings of dejection, anger and resentment. These will only be the stronger because the climate of this election year so clearly favors the Democrats, because this was supposed to be an election the Republicans couldn't win, and because in my view, the Obama ticket is obviously superior to McCain's.
But I hope that soon thereafter I'll find solace and encouragement in contemplating this unprecedented development: A major political party nominated a black man for the highest office in the land, and that man waged an intelligent, brave campaign in which many millions of Americans of all races enthusiastically supported an African American standard-bearer.
September 14, 2008
I do. This worry has been a factor in my thinking about whether to vote for Obama, and I also worry that it's wrong to allow it to be a factor. So I was eager to read Randall Kennedy essay. Excerpt: