Senator Obama’s campaign and winning of the Democratic nomination have revealed two important societal realities: the growing political power and sophistication of voters of color, and the systemically racist character of U.S. society.
Obama, a former community organizer, has succeeded so far because of personal courage and politically sophisticated get-vote-out organizing and fund-raising—implemented by technologically savvy staff making creative use of the Internet—and because overwhelming majorities in Democratic caucuses/primaries are voters of color and liberal/moderate whites. African Americans have shown record-setting political astuteness and muscle.
Obama’s candidacy has also revealed the systemic reality of U.S. racism. The overwhelming majority of whites voting in Republican and Democratic primaries/caucuses (taken together) voted for white candidates; absent major scandals or health issues, a substantial majority appear likely to vote for war hero McCain in November. The number of racialized attacks on Obama (e.g., Muslim religion, Wright, and Rezco) by whites in mainstream media and hundreds of mainstream (YouTube) and supremacist Internet sites has been dramatic and is growing (with many 527 Republican-group ads coming).
The naïveté (misrepresentation) about “open-minded, not racist” white voters and neglect of social science data on explicit/backstage, implicit, and duplicitous racism by the media—including progressive blogs—indicate that colorblind thinking and rhetoric are central in covering up the continuing impact of what I term the “white racial frame,” the centuries-old, white-constructed racist frame rationalizing white prejudice and discrimination against African Americans—including likely large-scale white voter decisions against a black presidential candidate in November.