"You know, son, back in my day, all blacks were not treated fairly. It had been a long time since slavery ended, but they were still far from free. They had some real tough roads to travel before reaching full acceptance. Nothing like it is today."I'm trying to picture a highly-dramatized conversation that might occur one day in the far future between a father and son. It's a very interesting concept to consider - a post-racial world, as described in a recent column by Mohammad Ali Salih, a Washington D.C. correspondent for major Arabic newspapers and magazines in the Middle East.
He had a similar present-day conversation with his son about the presidential campaigns and the effects that race has on them and the voters. Their talk was interesting.
"I asked my son, a twenty-something Democrat and Barack Obama supporter, two questions: Why do you favor Obama? and Are you supporting Obama because he is biracial like you?"
Salih's son had an expected angry response. "I knew you were going to ask about race," he said. "And I understand that, because of your age and background. (Mr. Salih is in his 60s and is an immigrant from Sudan). But, Dad, you need to wake up to the new thinking about race in America. It is not about being racial; it is not about being biracial; it is about being post-racial."
That is a theory I had never considered before - not only a world without race issues, but one that's pushed beyond them. It almost sounds like a Twilight Zone episode where one wakes up and the planet's population sees all the beautiful colors everywhere except skin. Suddenly, we are just "people."
But reverting back to the 2008 elections, must the race issues carry over to voter demographics, in addition to those of the candidates?
If the Democrats prevail, the U.S. will have its first woman or African-American president. Either would be a nice change from a bunch of boring old white guys.
But when we talk about the voters - the very people who elect our next leader - why must the classifications be separated into sublevels of people? You have the African-American vote and the Hispanic vote. There are the votes among women and blue-collared Latinos. Then the regular white-person vote.
Clinton, Obama, McCain and Huckabee are vying for them all but take different angles to winning them over. Why can't there just be votes, minus all adjectives? Just votes.
Candidates push for one nation, one people, one voice yet we have a variety of "votes."
Salih (the senior) said he always wanted his children to be proud of their mixed race. "It took me 10 painful years to realize that the color of my skin doesn't dictate my identity," he wrote. "Yet I didn't think about the contradiction that, although I had 'liberated' myself from having race as part of my identity, I wanted my children to belong to not only one race but two - until my son's lecture. Not only does race not matter, but mixed race also doesn't matter."
I think Obama would do much more for this country's racial divides than Clinton would do for our gender issues. Perhaps some black in a house that's "White" might help voters progress toward that post-racial world and start seeing some gray.
Chris Barnes is the former editor of The Free Press and The Saucon News. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His columns, archives and more are available online at www.cjbarnes.blogspot.com.