Our readings for Monday’s class and again for class tomorrow have focused largely on race, the way we conceptualize groups, and understand literature and, ultimately, humanity. In light of the historic presidential election results announced earlier tonight and our readings and discussions, what role do you think race, or, more accurately, our conceptualization of race, played in the election? I heard one of the reporters commenting that voters had acted as though they were “colorblind.” Is this accurate or even possible given the ways our brains organize? What further connections, if any, can you draw between the readings for Wednesday and ethnic identity in this election in particular and America in general?
Personally, I thought Gilroy’s early concepts of an ever-blending black culture and identity were relevant to the way Americans understood Barack Obama. Early in his campaign, members of the media and opponents sought to narrowly classify him as African or American or African-American; white, black or biracial; Muslim or Christian; a capitalist or a socialist; etc. While some of these claims aren’t grounded in fact, at least in terms of ethnicity and origin, Obama seems to be “both inside and outside the West” (972) as a result of his diverse background. For me, that very synthesis of cultural perspectives is at least some part of his appeal. (Of course, many of Gilroy’s other conclusions are based upon African-Americans reacting against the expectations of slavery (eg, focusing on creativity rather than labor), which one may argue don’t apply to Obama as he was not descended from slaves.)
What do you guys think about the perspectives of race we have read in relation to what we’ve witnessed in the past, what this election might imply, and where we hope to go in American racial/ethnic understanding?