Race and Politics

Race and Politics - Share YOUR Story!

Get My Vote is an online space created by NPR for people to explain their core political beliefs and share personal stories this election season. I spoke to NPR Senior Producer Joe Matazzoni about the project and about how YOU can contribute your stories about race and politics.

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I was amazed at how Obama was able to turn the Harold Ford campaign on its head - instead of being undone by womanizing, he was able to use Obama Girl to put down women. What really surprises me is that from the pantsuits to the complaints that she was too strong or too weak to the ABC News correspondant Saturday who said Hillary would never concede until she says "He won and I lost" - of all the groups that fought for their rights in the 1960s - veterans, black, and women - the only group that has yet to succeed is the women.

Sent by Hal Anderson | 1:58 PM | 6-8-2008

Three thoughts regarding the Democratic Party and the possibility of winning in November.

1. If Obama is willing to accept her, Hilary should run as the Vice Presidential candidate. This is a fairly insulated political role and she can springoard from this to the Presidential run in '12 or '16. As a senator or any other elected or public official, she will be scrutinized endlessly. Also, remember, the VP breaks senatorial ties.

2. Sexism was obvious in Hilary's situation but some of the sexism as proclaimed by her supporters seemed sexist as well. Those who now intend to vote for McCain seem to care less about the issues and the importance of winning the Presidency than they are about nurturing their sexist concerns. How about the racism, about which very little gets put into T-shirts, toys, etc.?

3. Someday in the not-too-far-off future a woman will be elected President. As sure-fire things go, this gets the ultimate brass ring.

Sent by Bill Kline | 9:09 PM | 6-8-2008

I think that it is more important for women that the candidate be a feminist, and that doesn't necessarily have to mean a woman. It would be great if the candidate for president were a woman. It will be great if Obama's running mate is a woman, preferably a better one than Hillary Clinton. Just as long as it's not a vile misogynist like Jim "Woman-Hater" Webb. Please, anybody but Webb.

Sent by Lily | 3:13 AM | 6-9-2008

The entire Democratic campaign was hard to watch. On the one hand, Obama has about as much integrity as a politican can have. On the other hand, Americans had to watch him manipulated into downplaying race. When Wright's rhetoric became a controversy, I was upset with Wright. I took issue with his timing more than I did with what the man was saying, yet part of me felt that Wright was simply trying to inject race into the discussion and that he felt this was more important than Obama's winning the Presidency. Wright's thinking may have been if Obama's success results in an increase in our inability and refusual to talk honestly about race, then his success is ironically our failure. Obama however, if he hoped to stay alive politically, had to disown Wright and eventually disown his church. He should not have been forced to do so, but as Wright said, Obama is a politician (first). Once Wright went away, Pfleger appeared, whose rhetoric sounded even more caustic than Wright's. It seemed at this point the universe was sending forth these messages, especially the second time when the bearer was a white male, but what also became clear is that the media (which caters to white liberals' denial of racism, their preference for a delusional let's all get along approach to race relations)have made themselves the moral judges for any utterance that touches upon race. Pleger's rhetoric was firey, yes, but distilled, he was only saying that Mrs. Clinton may have expected and therefore relied upon white skin privilege. She may have expected the masses to follow her. She may have thought her husband's influence would be an advantage, and she likely thought or at least hoped that the country would elect a woman before it would a black. What's so terrible about Pfleger's thesis? Nothing. In a supposedly democratic country, you should be able to offer any thesis. Your idea may not be popular, but you should neither be censored nor damned for offering it. And certainly, the media have no right to suggest to clergy what they can and cannot say in their pulpits. Churches are private, not public, domains. The end result of the media's eyes respecting no bounds, however, is that it forced a family to quit its church. Should we expect now that all politicians will have their pastors' sermons aired weekly for our approval? Should all aspiring policians join churches where the rhetoric is approved of by America's mainstream? Should all black ministers censor themselves from talking about what oppresses blacks with the thought that there may be someone in the congregation who hopes to hold political office one day? This was Wright's very point. When you attack his sermons, you attack black ministers' ability to deal with the peculiar wounds of their particular sheep. The 2008 Democratic campaign is a shameful and scary example of the media's excessive power today.

Sent by Lisa | 9:42 AM | 6-9-2008

I just hope when we talk about "race influencing politics" we are talking about all people. It is funny to me how we only hear about white not voting for Sen Obama rather than African-American's voting for him due to race. Both reasons are just as invalid.

Sent by Michael | 8:41 AM | 6-22-2008

OMG - Michael,

If you don't understand why, historically and anthropologically, the dichotomy is worth making...

Honestly, no condescension intended, but if you are not old enough to have lived the "long view". You have some reading and listening to do.

Nothing implied here, I'm a moderate/conservative - but I'm not one of those conveniently deluded 'this is a color blind society' conservatives...That view is either blissfully ignorant of HUMAN (not just U.S.), history, or a thinly veiled - but highly successful - nod to the millions of mostly white Americans who reject or have no understanding of the impact of THREE centuries of codified, insidious racially based laws and societal norms.

In this country, you have much company with the attitude you expressed...there is room to keep it - stay comfortable - stay in denial or ignorance.

Sent by MARK ohio | 11:07 AM | 6-22-2008

The Mariah Careyfication of the Nation.

I was struck by something Barack Obama said when he returned from Iraq. He commented on how the Iraqi people were impressed on how U. S. soldiers of different ethnic backgrounds worked together to accomplish their missions.
This cooperation continues to be America's true legacy.

My husband and I met in the 1970s. Even thirty years ago inter-racial couples were looked at suspiciously. A generation later, performers like Miriah Carey are common place.

This week, as I watch American compete in the Olympics, I am struck by the White, Asian, African, Latin and myriad of ethnic faces that all represent America.

Years ago my father, a Goldwater Republican said he thought one day we might all blend into golden people.
Maybe it is naive to think we are closer to that vision than even a generation ago, but every time I turn on the television, open a magazine, or attend a public event I see that vision as real.

Sent by Mindy Reed | 5:38 PM | 8-10-2008

I am excited about Obama's candidacy, but I was a Clinton supporter during the primaries, and I cried when it became clear she would not get the party's nomination. I also completely agreed with her criticisms of Obama (some of which he has corrected since then) such as empty rhetoric and lack of experience, and I thought Ferraro's comment that got so much bad press was also a hard truth.

My stance on the race question, in relation to what I've said, is this: the U.S. had a clear choice between a man who was black and a woman who was white, and the country chose the man, and yet Clinton's loss was framed as a victory for women. Nonsense. The way that race ended reminds me of the battle fought after the civil war for both women and black men to get the vote, and congress finally gave the vote to black men, making women fight for that right for another fifty years. I see the same attitude here. Sexism has trumped racism, that's all the outcome of the primaries means to me because if Clinton were male, I have no doubt she would have beaten Obama fair and square and early on. This is not to say that I don't want a black president, but it's just to say that I see him as a man first, a black person second, and I see Clinton as a woman first, a white person second, so race meant less to me as a voter, and as such I don't see anything to celebrate.

Now that sexism has won out the democratic primaries, I just hope that racism doesn't have a big win in November.

Sent by Anne Charles | 8:21 PM | 8-24-2008