America may not be ready for its first black president

Sasha Parker

In 2008, the United States could have a black president.

As much as the mere possibility of having a minority in office excites me, I have to stop and ask a crucial question: Are we really ready?

And that “we” goes for blacks and whites.

Are blacks ready to support one of our own without labeling him a sellout?

I must admit, it seems as though every time a black person makes a stride toward leveling the playing field, he or she loses some support from the home team. Tiger Woods has darkened up the green. Until Thurgood Marshall, the only black on the Supreme Court was the justices’ robes and Condoleeza Rice has tackled a few racial obstacles for black women in politics.

At some point in time, Marshall, Woods and Rice have all been considered an Uncle Tom or sellout to some harsh critic because they are our color but not our kind.

Now, the question seems to be: Is Barack Obama our kind?

The Rev. Al Sharpton doesn’t think so.

Sharpton, along with other black leaders, is disappointed in Obama’s inability to discuss the minority issues. Rather than appease his critics with empty promises, Obama has declined to discuss certain issues without researching them first.

Sharpton has announced that he’s considering a run for the presidency in 2008 and only because Obama hasn’t given him a reason not to.

“If we’re talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who’s representing that right now?” Sharpton asked during an interview with The Associated Press. “We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not, we’ll see over the next couple of months.”

With that being said, are we really ready to accept the fact that Barack Obama has been able to maintain a group of multi-hued supporters without selling his soul to the mainstream?

Better yet, are whites ready to let go of race and vote based on issues? Given the recent comments I’ve read on StaterOnline from students regarding race and their feelings toward minorities, I’m not sure if we are at the point where race wouldn’t be considered in this election.

If a college campus is supposed to be a microcosm of society, then the thoughts and feelings of some Kent State students represent the same thoughts and feelings of many U.S. citizens.

As sad as it is, no matter how charismatic, how well-versed or how well-planned, Obama’s presidential campaign could flop because of one factor he can’t control — his race.

Americans cannot talk about slavery without tension, so am I convinced that we’re ready for a black president? Not really, and only because we, as a nation, have glossed over the tough racial issues for too long.

The history of race in this country has become a jagged wound that won’t heal until it is cut smooth. Only then, will this country be ready for a minority of any kind in the Oval Office.

If Obama stands any chance at succeeding in 2008, he has to compete not only with the other candidates, but with centuries of history and rhetoric that have lead to the invisible struggles black people fight every day.

Sasha Parker is a junior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].