African Americans and Sen. Barack Obama

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic


Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Denver, CO. Source: Getty Images hide caption

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Last week we talked about women and the candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Today, we'll focus on African Americans and Sen. Barack Obama. There's no question that his campaign has already made history — he's the first African American candidate to be included among the front-runners for a major party nomination. But his candidacy also stirs complex feelings within the black community. If you're an African American voter, how do you feel about the possibility that an African American may be elected president? Are you excited? Afraid? Do you feel an obligation to vote for him?



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It's not about race! I'm exhausted from hearing this debate. I am supporting Senator Obama because I believe in his positions and his ideals. He just happens to be a Black man. Will I be proud? Yes, but his race will not be the only reason why. It has always been my understanding that voting was about the issues and not about race and gender.

Sent by Manda Kelley | 2:08 PM | 1-31-2008

I am an African American who feels absolutely no pressure to vote for Barack Obama because he is African American. However, I am proud to vote for him, simply because I think he is the better candidate. The fact that he is African American just makes it extra special.

Sent by Edith | 2:11 PM | 1-31-2008

Obama's character and message is far more important to me than his race. The idea of "post-race" is ridiculous, but it is important to remember that 'the African American community' (whatever that means)is a diverse body of people, with different political needs and opinions. To think that all Blacks will vote for him b/c he is black is naive.

Sent by Katherine Lee | 2:18 PM | 1-31-2008

Barack Obama being a president will be a wake-up call to black America. It will say, no it is not true that you are limited to what is being offered in the hood. You can be what you want to be. I think race is such a big issue in this country that an Obama presidency will go a long way to healing the divide.

Sent by Keith Hood | 2:19 PM | 1-31-2008

If Senator Obama where white, would he have made it this far? If Senator Clinton were male, would she have done as well? I have to say no, on both accounts. However, the time is right to have our first African American President, OR our first Woman President. I will be voting for whichever gets the nomination, but in my heart I would rather vote for John Edwards. I find that he really speaks to what moves me.

Sent by Justin Schultz | 2:20 PM | 1-31-2008

I have a friend who thinks that Clinton lost South carolina intentionally to make Obama seem more black, as a way of motivating whites to vote against him. On the yahoo home page they used a picture of Barak and Michelle which made it appear she was using the black power salute. Any thoughts on the darkening of Obama?

Sent by William Sherman | 2:21 PM | 1-31-2008

I do not feel compelled to vote for Barack even though I will. I have been angered by the Clinton's descent into the race abyss in order to win. They have been surprised by Barack's broad appeal and have felt the need to attack him on the basis of race. Unfortunately, in this country, race remains an area of vulnerability. On your show yesterday, there was a caller who identified himself a White southern Democrat, who admitted he was not ready to vote for an African-American; those are the people the Clintons. for all their supposed identity with African-Americans, will attempt to reel in, and I hate them for that. I also am irritated by the media that insists on allowing race to be the issue it doesn't have to be and that you feed into "the race card" that Obama has done his best to avoid. it is Hillary and the media that have bought into playing up race, not Obama. I was originally a supporter of Hillary, but not any more, she's as typical as any other racist candidate.

Sent by Rose Marie | 2:21 PM | 1-31-2008

I am white and was at the Obama rally last night. I am truly excited about what he can bring to the country as a man, not a black man. The AZ community is proud of John McCain because they see him as a product of this area, not because he is white. While I appreciate the historical significance of Obama's candidacy, I resent race being continually dragged back into the conversation, on either side.

Sent by James in Phoenix | 2:22 PM | 1-31-2008

It will always baffle me that when a Black man or woman is in the spotlight, whether it be for an elected office or in entertainment, it is expected by non blacks that black people will always support that person because they are black. Anyone who says or thinks that does not know black people.

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:22 PM | 1-31-2008

White democratic leaders in Michigan took away our opportunity to vote for Obama when they moved the primary, leaving only Senator Clinton as the only top tier candidate. Those of us who wanted to vote Obama had to vote uncommitted, which couldn't be further from the truth. Clinton claimed victory.

Sent by John | 2:23 PM | 1-31-2008

A president has many roles, but three of the most important are manager, leader and symbol. Race has nothing to do with Obama's ability to manage or lead, where he handily matches or surpasses Senator Clinton, but does play a role in how he is perceived symbolically. As an African American with mixed background Obama represents, in his person, multiculturalism and pluralism in a way that Senator Clinton does not.

Sent by Andrew Fairfield | 2:23 PM | 1-31-2008

aren't peopel asking white men and women do they feel compelled to vote for the white candidate?

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:24 PM | 1-31-2008

In answer to a question of Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation today, I don't feel women or blacks should feel a responsibility to vote for Clinton or Obama. Actually, I can't even believe he would ask that question. It's wonderful that they're leading their parties, but if their constituencies don't agree with the candidate's goals for our country, then why why why would someone vote for them based on their skin color or gender? It's ridiculous. It's not going against your race or your gender, it's being a responsible voter.

Sent by Beth | 2:25 PM | 1-31-2008

i'm sorry professor, but barack is more a white man than a black cus of his momma's mitochondrial DNA. so i'm voting for the white guy with the chocolate skin

Sent by genesgalore | 2:26 PM | 1-31-2008

We should be trying to achieve a society where very few vote for or against a candidate on the basis of skin color or gender. Your programs encouraging discussion of race and gender are counter to this goal.

Sent by TR Smith | 2:26 PM | 1-31-2008

Please, please stop with your obsessive racial talk. He is not running to be the Afram president. he has a lot of good policy ideas that you are ignoring and your focus on his color skews the contest.

Sent by aaron | 2:26 PM | 1-31-2008

I would not vote for HIlary Clinton just because I am womsn. My fear is that if either Obama or CLinton wins the nomination they cannot win against a "reasonable" (McCain?) Republican. But what if we had a Clinton-Obama (or vice-versa): might we have an unbeatable Democratic ticket??

Sent by Sara | 2:27 PM | 1-31-2008

I would be thrilled to pieces if I were to turn on the radio and hear a discussion regarding the qualifications of presidential candidates. Not their gender. Not their race. What is this black man or this white woman going to do for our country? How can we know that they will deliver on their promises? What are their plans regarding the Middle East, Global Warming, the economy, etc etc etc?? Everyone is chattering about identifying with them on terms of race and gender. A valid conversation, but how exactly are these people qualified for this position, and why should we vote for them? Can we talk about that now and then??

Sent by Kimberly | 2:28 PM | 1-31-2008

I am afraid a black candidate, even if he wins, will loose the election in the same way that Al gore did. It will be taken from him.

Sent by Maribeth | 2:28 PM | 1-31-2008

Perhaps if far too many elections had not passed in this country without even the possibility of the election of a black, female, or other minority candidate, some might not feel so exasperated and even morally obligated to vote based upon race or gender. As a Caucasian woman supporting Barrack Obama, based on the merits of his campaign, I do feel somewhat guilty of turning my back on the female candidate. Although, I know logically, I have made the right choice.

Sent by phx | 2:28 PM | 1-31-2008

I am a white Jewish female. I will vote for Obama. Obama is the best candidate for the job. Regardless of color, religion, or party. We need to STOP talking about the color of his skin. It is irrelevant.

If Italians or Irish are proud of their heritage, it is ok. If Obama is proud of his heritage, it is racist.

Sent by Rachel | 2:30 PM | 1-31-2008

i am a white woman. i understand that everyone says they are surprised about a black man running for pres. my feeling is yeah so what? to me his skin color means nothing except for something that should have happened years ago. the same goes for a woman, so what and what took so long. i am baffled that it is a 'wow' isn't it a shock. i feel what took so long and why does it matter? i mean for people who think it is a bad thing. i don't get how his skin color could be a bad thing.

Sent by mar | 2:30 PM | 1-31-2008

It's baffling, if not offensive, that the media keep asking about the racial affinity of black voters to Sen. Obama, with little attention given to their concern for how he weighs in on substantive issues that affect black Americans.

I believe there is a special expectation among black voters--and it is a reasonable expectation, that a black candidate will give a careful ear, and a cogent voice, to their concerns.

But clearly, Obama has chosen a strategy that seeks to neutralize "race" in order to not "turn off" the white voter. He has certainly not completely ignored black issues--he has talked about disparities in sentencing, education, and health for example--but his lens and voice on these issues often seems outdone by that of other candidates, namely Hillary and Edwards, who has now suspended his campaign. This certainly does not mean the others will do better at addressing black issues once in the White House, but it does give blacks reason for pause.

What I would love to see is Barack Obama debate with Clinton about solutions to these problems, and delineate how his policies are different than those of Clinton.

We almost had that debate at Howard University and in South Carolina and in Nevada. But it never truly unfurled--in no small part because the media hosts typically truncate their questions about racial issues and squander the public's time with soap opera issues.

Bottom line: I believe that most blacks, though not all, are astute enough to cast their votes not based merely on pride alone--but also on policies. It's unfortunate that the media refuses to carve out a public space to have a meaningful conversation.

Sent by John Sankofa | 2:34 PM | 1-31-2008

I commend your efforts but I think since Iowa Bill Bennett(referred to him as "Barack -with great emphasis on Hussiem- Obama" and others have made an attempt to make Obama anything other than what he is. That is the only person willing to work toward a consensus which is necessary to accomplish anything nationally or internationally. He would not be an African American president. He would be a president of African American descent. Don't color the message or the messenger. They are both what America needs.

Sent by Archester Neil | 2:36 PM | 1-31-2008

Everyone is forgetting that Mr. Obama is of mixed race. He is not Black, he is not White. I am white and 50 years old and I am voting for Obama not because he happens to be as White as he is Black but because I think he is the right person to lead the country. I wish that Blacks and Whites would make issue that Mr. Obama is part of both races and see that as something to unite people. Our country which includes all races has a problem with seeing people of mixed race as only part of the minority race and this is a problem.

Sent by Ted E Jindrich | 2:37 PM | 1-31-2008

Your fearful guest should take some courage from Sen. Ted and Caroline Kennedy standing side by side with Barack Obama. Good heavens, we hear enough fear mongering from the Bush administration.

Sent by Joyce | 2:38 PM | 1-31-2008

If folks are worried about Obama being assassinated if elected, don't worry - if presidents could be assassinated easily these days, it would have already happened in our current administration.

Sent by Elizabeth | 2:40 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm a 58 year old white male living in Kansas. My white 80+ year old neighbors and I both will vote for Obama in the caucus and the general election! but both of us worry about who he will appoint because of his lack of experience. Black, brown, white, yellow, or whoever we are all americans and should work towards a better future for all. This would be a radical change from the last eight years

Sent by Joe Hodson | 2:40 PM | 1-31-2008

Like most Americans, I will vote based on how candidates line-up with my interests in the political scene. As an African-American, I feel like it sounds as though many of the media are pushing the idea that we are voting for him only because he is Black.

Yesterday, your station expressed an absence of candidates for Male, White, Conservative voters. It suggests that most people primarily by race. Black men or women have NEVER had a candidate who looks like us. We have always voted based on a candidates position on the issues.

If the media continues to push the "race" button, I'm afraid it is the only thing people will look at, as they consider their choice - Black person or White person. This sets up the wrong premise for voting.

We have to look at the policies of the candidates, regardless of the color of his skin. This would reflect the selection of a candidate, based on "the content of their character."

Sent by Juan - Portland, OR | 2:40 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm curious why Obama, his supporters & even those who are not ready for an African american president are not acknowledging that Obama is half white.He is a mixed race. I'm a mixed race: latin & white. I support Obama
seems as though depending on how ones features are visually is how we perceive and label them as black,white latin asian-

Sent by patricia | 2:40 PM | 1-31-2008

If it is a legitimate statement to say that Black folks who don't vote for Barak Obama are committing race betrayal is it equally valid to suppose that White folks who don't vote For John McCain are committing race betrayal as well. If not, why isn't this a double standard of value?

Sent by george claxton | 2:41 PM | 1-31-2008

Black, White, Man, Woman is not what plays into my decision, nor does any big names that support a particular candidate. As a white woman I will vote for the person I feel is qualified for the job. We as a country have a lot of pressing concerns War, Economy, health care, education. Mr. Obama hasn't convinced me yet that he has the experience I want and think we need.

Sent by Nadine Thompson | 2:41 PM | 1-31-2008

I am not a black, but I will be do hope that of the remaining democratic candidates Mr. Obama is successful in his bid for the presidency. I long for the day that the media only looks at a candidates leadership ability, not his/her race or gender.

Sent by Laura | 2:41 PM | 1-31-2008

Regarding Obama's stance on Pakistan, he never said he would "unilaterally attack Pakistan." What he said in an August 1 speech is that he has problems with Musharraf's hesitance to help us pursue bin Laden, and that if US forces pursuing bin Laden or his lieutenants must cross into Pakistan, Obama would authorize that border crossing with or without Musharraf's permission. This is nowhere near "attacking Pakistan." There is so much misinformation spread so widely these days, and it's important to take advantage of the Internet to research any claim that sounds over the top or dubious.

(Obama '08!!!)

Sent by Joe | 2:41 PM | 1-31-2008

As a black man, Obama's life story is symptomatic and a lot of us can relate to it- raised by a single parent, beat all odds to attend elite colleges like Columbia and Harvard, worked in inner0-city communities when he could have done something more monetarily profitable. I think that he understands the African American experience any other presidential candidate left.
Like most people Obama inspires me, and that's what I llok for in a president.
In addition, the following issues make me draw closer to him:
1. the Bush-Clinton dynastic question worries me.
2. I have no doubt that a woman will become president in the next few years, but I can't say that about a black person given that the political influence of Africa-Americans seems to be dwindling with the emergence of other and relatively more populous minority groups such as the Latinos. So I see Obama as perhaps our last chance.
3. A president Obam may help heal the racial divisions in the country and send a strong signal to the rest of the world about America's belief in diversity, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity irrespective of one's skin color

Sent by Maxwell Oteng, Boulder Creek, California | 2:42 PM | 1-31-2008

I am a middle-aged white woman and am not willing to vote either gender or race. I want the BEST candidate who will repair and restore our country to the country it should be. I believe that candidate is Barack Obama.

Sent by Lisa Schermehorn | 2:43 PM | 1-31-2008

I am a white male attending the University of Wyoming and am very excited about Obama's campaign, and as of now plan to vote for him. His ability to reach into the younger vote, I believe will get him past Senator Clinton, unfortunately he has not geared his campaign towards the younger black vote who do not attend secondary education that that are not really as connected to information as students are.

Sent by Nik Gribb | 2:45 PM | 1-31-2008

I have trouble with the division of people in this country. Black,White,Asian, Hispanic etc. WE ARE AMERICANS ! Why don't we just be Americans not Irish,Scotch,African,Hispanic or any other ....Lets build our own culture/history/etc. Vote for the most qualified person. Have relationships with people

Sent by are americans | 2:45 PM | 1-31-2008

Obama has an African father and a white American mother. Are we promulgating the old Jim Crow one drop rules by saying he's black? Isn't his identity much more complicated than its being portrayed?

Sent by Steve | 2:45 PM | 1-31-2008

I am voting for Obama because I believe he is the best candidate. But my comment is why is referred to only as a black candidate? He has a white mother and a black father. Does that make him as much white as black? Why are we still dealing with race from the perspective of slaveholders during the enslavement of African Americans?

Sent by Rosemary Banks | 2:46 PM | 1-31-2008

I fully intend on voting for Obama as do most of my peers. As a 31 year old white male in Oregon (a very white state) i find that most Democrats I know find the fact that Obama is African American completely irrelevant. He is simply the most inspiring candidate I have ever seen and most people i know watching the contest feel the same way.

Sent by Jesse Kinder | 2:48 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm a white woman who is supporting Obama. Mainly because of issues but also because I think having a person of color with a muslim sounding name will go a long way toward building bridges internationally that have been so destroyed by the current government. My husband and I will be dancing in the streets hopefully in the arms of other people regardless of color if Obama becomes the next president. Our country needs this symbolic unity very very badly.

Sent by Marianna | 2:49 PM | 1-31-2008

I want to hear why black voters are voting for Obama aside from the fact that he is black. I don't believe I should vote for someone because of skin color. I am a white woman voting for Barack Obama.

Sent by j | 2:50 PM | 1-31-2008

As an African male, it is obvious that a nomination and election of an half white and half African heritage that is Sen. Obama is a troubling dynamic. First, it would represent a first nail in the coffin of systemic white male supremacy within the u.s. non-democracy political process and turn the tables on the last vestige of white power presumption within the society. Second, supporters of Obama must realize that any and all promises doing the campaign will quickly become way back burner issues with the economic and the demobilization of the Iraq quagmire. And cleaning up that last one, I think should be on the shoulders of the the gender and race who created the problematic. Who [amongst the candidates] is talking about the mental health of potential returning soldiers let loose amongst the domestic populace with no disciplinary actions against them for the wrongs they have committed in Iraq? what is the agenda for urban/rural youth blight and disenfranchisement?

Sent by K Mjumbe | 2:50 PM | 1-31-2008

Why is no one stating the obvious: if Barak Obama is elected President, he will be the first Bi-Racial President of the U.S., not the first Black President. He cannot win without the white vote and many white people feel more comfortable with Senator Obama because he is half white.

Sent by Alex | 2:52 PM | 1-31-2008

Race does not have a factor in my vote however do you think race may play a factor with other nations if Obama becomes president? Also would his rejection with Islam would have a bad effect on our middle east allies?

Sent by Markus from Niles | 2:52 PM | 1-31-2008

As for the claims by some that Sen. Obama lacks the experience to be President- this argument holds no water. Look at all of the state governors with little or no "international experience" who were elected: Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter. If someone has a problem with Sen. Obama's qualificaions, let them be a little more intellectually honest about it.

Sent by Steve Karmel | 2:53 PM | 1-31-2008

I feel an obligation to contribute to the fight for freedom and equality of all Americans. A vote for Senator Obama will inspire the nation to unite in the way, in which, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned. Our country needs this type of healing now more than ever and needs to be awakened to the reality that all men are created equal. This obligation I feel as a human being.

Having said that, as a black woman, I admit my tremendous sense of pride that a black man is being held in such high esteem anywhere in the world.

Sent by Ruth Perry | 2:53 PM | 1-31-2008

I think Barack Obama would be the first person to say, don't deny him your vote for his safety. Who wins then? I disagree with the previous caller who said an assassination would tear the country apart. Don't deny him your vote for that reason alone. Everything worth having is worth losing. This man is a true leader for our time.

Sent by Lisa Alfano (Lansing, Michigan) | 2:55 PM | 1-31-2008

If Obama was white would he have the same chance of winning the nomination.

Sent by jim connell | 2:56 PM | 1-31-2008

Much current reporting by all forms of media appears to attribute racism to the Clintons' motives. When McCain and Romney exchange in vigorous, heated, and often personal, debate, the media dismisses it as "old-fashioned hard ball politics." Not so with Hillary; it is apparently unseemly for women to engage in political attacks, and off limits for a white candidate to attack a black candidate. Is it not acceptable for a white candidate to attack a black candidate politically without running the risk of racism? If the Democratic Party is so worried about this within its own family, just wait till the Republican Party gets their attack machine cranked up--we haven't seen anything yet! So far, there appears to be a decidedly hands-off approach by the media in their reporting about Obama. But if the Democratic Party is willing to nominate a largely unvetted candidate because he makes a pretty speech, then we have only ourselves to blame if we find out later that there is no "there" there. Remember how George W. Bush was supposed to be the second coming? Is Barak Obama now JFK/MLK reincarnated? I challenge the media, as well as the Democratic Party, to start examining Obama seriously so we can know more about this man. If we don't, we are doing a serious disservice to both Barak Obama and the country.

Sent by Pat Rose | 2:58 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm an African American female who just mailed in my absentee ballot for Missouri primary (Feb 5). I also heard Obama speak this Tuesday in Kansas City. With that said, at the end of the day, I voted for Hillary. I have always been a Hillary supporter and I'm still a supporter today. However, I'm so thrilled to have Obama in the race. If Obama is elected as the democratic candidate. I will certainly vote for him. I am proud of both Hillary and Obama. My parents live in South Florida, my father is for Obama and my mother is for Hillary. Thank god we have the right to agree to disagree.

Sent by B Johnson | 2:58 PM | 1-31-2008

I am really saddened to find Talk of the Nation focusing on Obama as Black this week and Clinton as female last week--this serves to trivialize and marginalize them. Instead, I would like a spinfree discussion on where they differ on the issues v.s. each other and the Republicans. Are you planning a feature on whether senior citizens are supporting McCain? Whether rich people are supporting Ronmey? Whether garage band members are supporting Huckabee?

Beth Wellington
The Writing Corner

Sent by Beth Wellington | 3:00 PM | 1-31-2008

I have gone back and forth between Clinton and Obama. This program helped solidify my determination to vote for Barack Obama. I am not African-American

Sent by Matt Weiss | 3:03 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm planning to vote for Hillary Clinton; I am a woman; I am not black. Having just listened to a caller to TOTN regarding support for Barack Obama because of the level of commitment and risk he's making and taking, I have only one thought: yes, he's making a huge sacrifice for what and who he believes in BUT that's still not a reason to vote for him. As a person he has my admiration and support; as a candidate he has not impressed me as being able or ready to take on the office of president. He is a great and inspiring speaker but I'm challenged to find real substance, real action points, in what he says.

Sent by Sue Veness | 3:03 PM | 1-31-2008

I support his candidacy, but remain skeptical as to whether he can win. That aside, the symbollism of his running, his current level of acceptance by non-whites and his capacity to raise such large contributions is most heartening. Now, if by some fluke he wins the presidency, I'm concerned about his ability to move the movers of government and gain the confidence of the women and men in power throughout the spectrum of the state. This nations is under so much stress and is in dire need of effective and prodigious fixing, that his failure would reflex poorly on blacks and their ablilty to serve in high office for this great country the WE ALL LOVE.

Sent by PC Jones | 3:04 PM | 1-31-2008

Living in SE Idaho, I'm not really qualified to address the racial issue, but being 24 years old I am in full support of Obama. I think the argument about his "lack" of experience is weak. Sure, more time can give valuable experience, but more often than not, that comes with corruption. Lets face it, we don't have a squeaky-clean government that everyone attests, and a younger, "fresh" face, with new ideas and perspectives is probably the most valuable thing with could hope for in a president.

Sent by ethan | 3:05 PM | 1-31-2008

Thank You Neil Conan and participants for an incredible discussion. As a white woman I was relieved to hear the reality of the issues discussed by people who live the implications. I hope there are many more conversations like this. The "elephant in the room" is much bigger than this discussion addressed. We need to hear more about the elephant. Thank you

Sent by Bernadette Callister | 3:05 PM | 1-31-2008

Why haven't we heard from the black community about Barack Obama's racial stereotyping?

I have always understood that the perpetuation of racial stereotypes was racist behavior and people who behave in a racist fashion are considered racists.

Therefore, Barack Obama must be, logically, a racist, as he perpetuated the stereotype of black people as being particularly good dancers. In response
to the question during the South Carolina debate about Bill Clinton being
considered the first black president, Barack responded that he would have
to see Bill Clinton's dance moves to see if Bill was "a brother."

Apparently Obama defines blackness by dance ability not political leadership ability.

Sent by Charles | 3:09 PM | 1-31-2008

Barack is the most competent and integrity infused candidate in this election on the Democratic ticket. As a black woman, I have the obligation of our ancestors' sacrifice to support Barack as he seeks the nomination. The blood sweat and tears of our past freedom fighters expect nothing less from all of us. It is time to heal this country and this world and not go backwards with the Clinton regime or the cutthroat Republicans.

Sent by Ericka Abrams | 3:10 PM | 1-31-2008

Markus....the Sauds don't seem to have a problem dealing with Christians. As for his rejecting Islam,if so, I assume that pales in comparison to the hegemonic sway(good or bad)and backing of the United States.

Sent by PC Jones | 3:12 PM | 1-31-2008

Charles, I dig your point. I do wish he'd speak in the same mid-western, news anchor tone he used in Iowa and NH. That said, I wish Sen.Clinton stop using slave and plantation narratives everytime she comes to Harlem. Both need to comport themselve differently. Thanks for talking about Dr. King, Sentators, but what about the War, the economy, taxes, healthcare and everything else they don't think African-Americans care about.

Sent by PC Jones | 3:19 PM | 1-31-2008

Charles....One thing....Is that, black sterotyping, a philosophical or political concern of yours?

Sent by PC Jones | 3:21 PM | 1-31-2008

I'm white, so I can't comment on African Americans' feelings toward Obama. But I can say that I feel obligated to vote for him because, quite simply, he is what the nation needs right now. For 16 years, we have been subjected to the cynical politics of Clinton-Bush. Both approach politics the same way: analyze the voting populace in terms of competing interest groups, then feed enough policy crumbs to enough different groups until you have forged a majority. That approach was plainly evident in Bill's shallow efforts to inject race into the campaign and marginalize Obama as just another black candidate. I believe that Obama has risen above this gutter apporach to politics. He sees politics as a question of leadership - not just for some groups, but for all of us. We might disagree with some of his specific policies, but as long as we believe that he is really about what's best for all of us, we can better follow his leadership. And that's why this white man is voting for Obama.

Sent by George | 3:40 PM | 1-31-2008

This was a good, serious show that respected the callers and Sen. Obama.
On last week's show about women and Sen. Clinton's candidacy, the host and his guests seemed to think one of the main concerns women voters have about Hillary Clinton is her taste in clothing.
TOTN, please try to be a little more even handed.

Sent by Susan H. | 3:46 PM | 1-31-2008

A decision to support Mr Obama should not be avoided because of a fear of assisnation. We best not make choices in that way. We didn't avoid advances in medicine, space, etc because of fear or anxiety that here might be tragedies or problems. We should not respond at this critical time out of fear. Although there might be such anxiety, this is not at all the best way to make choices for president. Decisions at this critical time in our country for support of Mr Obama must be because of the positive power his leadership. This is independent of gender or race. More than anything, after 8ys of our country's moral and ethical decline, both within the country and with the world, we must have a person who is able to correct the awful course of our great country. We do not require so much of the crafty political savy of Ms Clinton; as a visionary( similiar to John Kennedy) at the current critical time.. There are and can be times when we probably need the savy politican--and Mr obama can also do that.. As needed there can be additional resources for decisions and information.

Sent by tom van doren | 3:54 PM | 1-31-2008

Senator Obama is first a Christian human being. Next, he is a person who is not black, white, etc. I am terribly embarassed to have to read prehistoric comments about any person during the 21st century. According to law, I am a black female no matter what my genealogy or lineage. I worked in a dominant white society (85-90%) for 26 years. I continue to keep in contact with the "white" friends who were my greatest mentors. As I grew in my area of work, I did not see black or white. I saw a group of people who worked to help all people. It is quite evident that those who keep throwing the race card have a paycheck that they want to keep. This is stereotypically called welfare. The former President Reagan reduced taxes and helped with the small businesses that all people could establish to help themselves. My conclusion to all of the people with the negative comments against Senator Obama in reference to experience and color is that they want this life to remain as has been in the past-inequality for jobs and money for the minorities. It is easier for these people to view life without any benefits to minorities because they do not want to change to make a BETTER WORLD. They therefore want the welfare for themselves to continue because there is only so much money to go around to everyone. Anyone disagree?

Sent by realitygirl2 | 4:27 PM | 1-31-2008

Black/White, this country still has a long way to go before equality for all is realized. For me, the issues are whats important. This is not the first time an African-American is running for president. Unlike previous candidates, Obama seems to have a higher acceptance level. But I have to wonder, is some people caught up in the rush of the moment. The fact that this is a historic time in Americas' history, to have both a woman and a black candidate competing for the highest office in the land. To run for office is one thing, being effective once in office is another. If once in office he can effectively tackle the issues and not be another 'politician' I would be proud.

Sent by Victor | 4:31 PM | 1-31-2008

I felt sad and dismayed after listening to Talk of the Nation which aired on January 31, 2008. Mr. Neal Conan and a panel of people from Morgan University debating Barack Obama???s candidacy for president, and what it means to Americans of African descent. The most insidious part of the discussion was listening to Mr. Conan???s skillfully orchestrating this sad symphony.
First of all, Mr. Obama is running for the presidency of the United States; not for Kingship of the black race. Second, the nature of the program and similar programs like this is divisive in nature, and successfully draws people into a conversation that really has no merit. A more appropriate panel should have been assembled consisting of white people debating this topic instead Michel Martin, Keli Goff, and Michael Fauntroy. Then I think the elephant in the room would pull up a chair.
You see, if shows like yours continue to air programs that highlight what you???ve branded as an ???oddity event???, such as using Mr. Obama???s quest for the presidency to further divide black people by appealing to their emotions and physical differences, in my opinion, only serves to sustain that ???privilege??? employed by so many of the white majority. I draw your attention to the facts, according to census data, African Americans make up between 12-13% of the population in the U.S., this means we couldn???t represent a majority of anything, even if every man, woman, and child doubled their efforts in the attempt. Mr. Obama appeals to people. He appeals to people who should think about the issues, and form intelligent conclusions, as well as make appropriate decisions based on what he has to offer. That???s it! In other words, everyone should make up their minds based on everything except Mr. Obama???s race, his color, his national origin, any disability he might have, or his sex.
In the future, if at all possible, I encourage National Public Radio to please air programs to it???s listeners who may be Americans of African descent of a more substantive value. Thanks.

Sent by E. Ford | 4:55 PM | 1-31-2008

I am personally offended by those who are voting for or against a candidate because of the color of their skin or their gender. Who will be the best president? Who will be a uniter of this country? Who will get past partisan politics and help turn this country around? I come from an overwhelmingly white conservative community in Utah. I am voting for Barack Obama because I think he is the best candidate I've seen. I am hopeful that he might be the courageous wise leader this country needs. Until the media decided to harp on his color it never even entered by consciousness.

Sent by Calli | 5:33 PM | 1-31-2008

I am proud of the fact that we have a woman and an African American with a realistic chance at the presidency. That having been said, voting for Obama because he is African American or voting for Hillery Clinton because she is a woman is exactly the same as voting for someone because they are white and male; pure discrimination and racism! I think all those people, including Neil, on the program yesterday were racist. Let us vote for the best candidate, not the person who is white or a person of color, male or female, old or young! These are all protected groups under EEO law. NPR, I am surprised that your station has become so racist!!!

Sent by Gary | 12:54 PM | 2-1-2008

This land is called America, we are fighting a war with men of many racial identities, is that the best question you have. Is there a patent on what race or gender can called themselves president. It is bigger than black man white man, white woman

Sent by Joseph | 3:10 PM | 2-1-2008

I am worried if Obama wins, he would have to do something like escalate the war in Iraq to convince the Military-Industrial Complex that he is "O.K.". Hilary would have to do the same thing. Bush's administration taught future President's that you can maintain an illegal war and Americans won't fight it. You can spend almost 500 billion dollars and no one will ask why or how its being spent. It is any President's interest to maintain foreign conflict in order to justify the use of his or her war powers. War make alot of people, alot of money.

Sent by J. Boynton | 6:31 PM | 2-1-2008

NPR has been my "old stand by" every day for years as a thorough and intelligent source of news. I am 53 years old myself, but feel I must tell you that through this election, even you, NPR, seem to be in danger of becoming "old school". Your coverage of the Clinton - Obama contest seems to be mostly missing the mark on just what is the historical nature of this election. Yes, simplistically stated, we have a woman and an African American running, each with a good chance to win the presidency. But the real history being made here is something else. It is the deep and broad grass roots that Obama has cultivated to make our campaign not just successful, but a movement. I just spent most of the weekend volunteering and then logging on to MyObama, networking on the internet with hundreds of thousands of other Obama supporters at a time. There are only a few stars. Instead, we are an immense collection of the energy of all of us as a whole. We are already bringing about change by talking, writing, emailing, creating videos, going out to rallies and coming back and sharing massive quantities of our pictures, videos, essays, quips and notes of support. Last night, for example, I watched online as 20,000 gathered in St. Louis to support Obama as we all blogged about our reactions together. Obama has gathered massive crowds like this all over the nation. While Hillary Clinton is filling gymnasiums and auditoriums, Obama is filling stadiums. NPR seems to be missing much of that so far. Just this morning, I turned on the radio on the way to the office and NPR was reporting on a Clinton gathering last night, remarking positively that she had drawn 3,000 to her event. No mention was made of the scores of thousands who came out to see Obama just yesterday alone. Am I missing something? I think NPR is.

Sent by Linda Gehron , Esq. | 8:53 PM | 2-3-2008

This is history in the making for our country and a huge stepping stone for race in America. Why should I feel obligated to vote for him I vote on issues not for the skin color or the gender of the candidate. Move on America

Sent by sb | 11:27 AM | 2-4-2008

Don't look at the drama, look at the big picture. It appears that, of the sixteen states or so that had both parties doing something, the Democrats out polled the Republicans in 12, and in nine of those states, either Hillary, or Barack, or both, out polled the entire Republican Party. Of the states north of the Potomac and the Ohio, plus Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, California, Oregon, and Washington, and Hawaii, which have enough electoral votes to elect a President, similar statistics seem to hold across the board.

If the Primary breakouts hold up through November, The Democrats are in for the biggest landslide victory in history, and it now becomes important to get the strongest coat tails, not the strongest candidate.

Sent by Earl Moreo | 3:30 PM | 2-6-2008

I am a black woman originally from Illinois. Many of my family member still lives there and I have to say not one of them could tell me one thing Obama has done for them or the State. I am in the minority because I am not voting for someone because they promise change. I am the only one who can change my surroundings. If elected President, it would be great but I am not voting for him. His speeches sound like church sermons which frightens me. I remember when Bush promise change.

Sent by lola | 2:29 PM | 2-14-2008

One year ago I truly did not believe this campaign would be about race. I would like to think it still isn't; however, "the largest black voter turnout in recent history" (with the great majority voting for Obama) tells me that it just might be. Of all the black Americans I have discussed political platforms with, only three were able to support their vote for Obama with facts. Reading around the internet I am finding the same to be true. It is possible that Obama is winning an emotional campaign, rather than a political one?

Sent by Sonya | 10:43 PM | 2-19-2008

Im always weary of tokenism!

Sent by Jay | 12:19 PM | 6-9-2008