Why aren’t WE ready for a Black President?

“What do you think about Obama for President? Is America ready for a black President? Of course I would vote for the right black candidate but would America?” I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard this phrase as America now focuses on the presidential race.

While a majority of U.S. voters say they would vote for a black presidential candidate, many people say the United States is still not likely to put an African-American in the Oval Office quite yet.

Is the America they are referring to the "Bubba vote,"-rural whites unwilling to vote for a black candidate or even a dark-skinned Indian-American. If they have to ask I wonder if the America they are talking about are our us- you and I? Lets save the question about a woman, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, president is for another day.

You would think this question would be answered easily with a poll. Well that could be a problem. Traditionally there is a substantial gap between the poll numbers of black politicians and their electoral results. Many white voters, it turns out, say they intended to vote for a black candidate when they really don't. When questioned by pollsters, they are leery of being seen as racially prejudiced.

This phenomenon is called the "Wilder effect," named after the black Virginia governor elected in 1989. Wilder, a Democrat, polled well, then won narrowly. Polls showed a 10-percentage point lead but Wilder won by 0.5 percentage points.

This phenomenon could be waning. There is abundant evidence that attitudes toward black candidates are changing among white voters. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee lost his bid to become the state’s first black senator since Reconstruction, but by only three percentage points.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls showed that 40 percent of white voters supported Mr. Ford, compared with 95 percent of black voters. More intriguing, the final result was the same as what the exit polls had suggested.

Obama himself has heard the same mantra. “Is America Ready?” He does not see the skepticism as a lack of support. Just think about the reception he got in New Hampshire last month. In a state that is 96.2% white, and the state that holds the first presidential primary, he was received like a rock star.

Senator Obama is in many ways an unusual African-American politician, and that is why many Democrats, and Republicans, view him as so viable.

Senator Obama is a member of a post-civil-rights generation of black politicians and is not identified with leaders like Mr. Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who are polarizing to many white voters. He has a warm and commanding campaign presence that, as he showed in Illinois, cut across color lines.

Obama has been cutting across those color barriers for many years. A few years ago he reflected on his win in the Democratic primary, (he then went on to win the general election, twice) winning in white areas as well as black, in the suburbs as well as Chicago. He stated, “the reaction that followed echoed the response to my election (as the first African American President of) to the Law Review. Mainstream commentators expressed surprise and genuine hope that my victory signaled a broader change in our racial politics. Within the black community, there was a sense of pride regarding my accomplishment, a pride mingled with frustration that fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education and forty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we should still be celebrating the possibility --- that I might be the sole African American -- and only the third since Reconstruction -- to serve in the Senate. My family, friends, and I were mildly bewildered by the attention, and constantly aware of the gulf between the hard sheen of media reports and the messy, mundane realities of life as it is truly lived.

Senator Obama as you decide weather or not you are ready to be the first African American President WE are still asking if America is ready. It seems to some that if this question is asked, then there are already doubts that WE are ready.

No comments: