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Professor Gregory Parks questions whether it is too soon for a black president in Huffington Post op/ed

On October 11th the Senate blocked President Obama’s entire $447 billion jobs-stimulus bill. Again on October 20th, the Senate stonewalled a $35 billion part of that package in a late-night filibuster. These actions, along with opposition to his health care plan, highlight lingering questions over whether “hope” and “change” can manifest amidst such a vitriolic — and maybe race biased — climate.

In the wake of the 2008 election, an array of scholars, laypersons, and talking heads framed the Obama victory as the ultimate triumph over the color line. “Racial Barrier Falls in Decisive Victory,” proclaimed the front page of The New York Times. George Will praised the election and Obama for “taking America beyond an utterly exhausted narrative about race relations in the United States.” And the day after the election, the Wall Street Journal editorial page declared, “One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country.”

While the election of Obama was truly a watershed moment for the nation, it does not spell the end of racism. Elections don’t magically change social structures, engrained habits, or deep-seated attitudes. Even if we accept the premise that the 2008 election reflected a drastic shift toward racially egalitarian attitudes and practices, we must remember that many people did not vote for him … and that motivation could have been because of race.

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