Obama elected, centuries of racism suddenly gone?

I enjoy collecting things. So, of course you can count on me to save the Nov 5th copy of the Nytimes (though I was tempted to sell it on ebay when I heard that they were going for $200). With all the election result excitement, I was exhilarated to pick up my morning newspaper. But my spirit was slightly dampened when I caught sight of the huge headlines “OBAMA Elected President, Racial Barrier Falls”. Well, “Obama elected president” the nytimes got that part right, but “racial barrier falls” is a more contentious statement, and one that I don’t agree with. You might say, “It’s just a headline”. But headlines are important–headlines get read, articles don’t necessarily. Headlines have meaning, and people do have to sit around and think about them–they are more deliberate than haphazard.

I’m not going to bother to hash out my thoughts here because Rose Afriyie from the Michigan Daily and Ann from Feministing wrote about their thoughts on this very same headline in ways that reflect my views. From Feministing:

The [nytimes] story’s first paragraph read:

Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.

Um, what? Ok, first of all, this was easy?! Also, more importantly, one person of color at the top does not mean the glass ceiling — or any other barrier — is gone. Yes, Obama surpassed that barrier. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still firmly in place. It doesn’t mean that now the floodgates are opened, and we now live in an America where race is no longer a factor.

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