…a black man who had tried to peel his skin off…
…The emergence of this cohort has filled the commentariat with joy–not just because of what they are: bright, polite and, where skin tone is concerned, mostly light–but because of what they are not. They have been hailed not just as a development in black American politics but as a repudiation of black American politics; not just as different from Jesse Jackson but the epitome of the anti-Jesse.
“[Obama] is in many ways the full flowering of a strain of up-tempo, non-grievance, American-Dream-In-Color politics,” wrote Terence Samuel in The American Prospect recently. “His counterparts are young, Ivy League professionals, heirs to the civil-rights movement who are determined to move beyond both the mood and the methods of their forebears.”
There are many problems with this. Chief among them is that this “new generation” is itself a crude political construct built more on wishful thinking than on chronological fact….
…More than eighty years later the value of the new “Negro” leadership is, it seems, directly proportional to its distance from the black community and its experiences. Its cheerleaders desire not so much to refashion black politics as to eliminate it altogether, not so much to eliminate racism as to eradicate discussion of it….
…At most it does not just mark a new chapter in America’s racial history; it shreds the entire book and then burns the remains. To some this period, which has seen voter disenfranchisement in Florida, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Jena Six cases, is not only post-civil rights but postracial. “Obama embodies and preaches the true and vital message that in today’s America, the opportunities available to black people are unlimited if they work hard, play by the rules, and get a good education,” wrote Stuart Taylor Jr. in National Journal….
…Given the manner in which these politicians are depicted as going “beyond racial politics,” the concerns of black voters are well founded….