The selection of Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee unquestionably broke new ground. Barring some very unforeseen circumstances, America will either have its first black president or its first female vice president.
I took a plane yesterday directly from Denver, site of the Democratic Convention; to Minneapolis, whose twin city St. Paul is hosting the Republican Convention. Almost everyone on the flight was a working journalist. There were people speaking in half a dozen languages, reporters who'd converged on the American political conventions from all over the world.
They thought they had a big show. Well, now they have a REALLY, REALLY big show.
One question bound to emerge over the coming week is: is this election black vs. woman? ... that is, will people who want a race or gender "first" battle it out (as they arguably did during the Democratic Obama vs. Clinton bout). Or, through a different lens, could this race be black + woman? No matter who wins, there have already been historic firsts during this race, namely the first black Democratic presidential nominee; the first female Republican vice presidential nominee. This is already a double-barreled shot into the heart of politics and the history books. Regardless of the winner, could it be a positive? Could this election re-shape America's attitude towards race, gender, and achievement?
Well, we've got ten weeks until the election, and much more time to figure out how it's molding America. Our debate over race, gender, politics and achievement has been going on for hundreds of years in America. I for one am very curious how this changes the game.
Speaking of the game ... Alaskan Republicans picked Mitt Romney during their caucuses. Second up was Mike Huckabee. As we dig into the Republican convention, we'll see if we can get some black Alaskans to weigh in on their governor as the news unfolds.
Yes, there are black Alaskans. Here's a commentary from a few years ago where I reference a trip to Alaska and the black folks I met there.