Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"The Next President" or "The First Black President?"

RACE HAS REMAINED an underlying issue during the presidential campaign that concluded tonight with the election of Barack Obama.

But does it diminish the achievements of president-elect Obama to label him as the "First Black President?"

On one hand, it is most certainly an historic event.

On the other hand, he wasn't elected because he is African-American. He was elected because the majority of Americans believe in him and his mission.

Should the media refrain from focusing on his race? Or should they champion the progress this election represents?

UPDATE: AN OP/ED WRITER IN the 11/9 Sunday Inquirer writes:

The ritual preface of the word black in front of every achievement or breakthrough by an African American is insulting, condescending and minimizes their achievement. It maintains and reinforces the very racial separation that much of America claims it is trying to get past.

Do you agree? Disagree?

19 comments:

Pete B said...

Both mean as much. It is historical that he is the first black president. It must mean so much to not just African Americans but to all non-whites in the country that you can be WHATEVER you want to be if you work at it. I think this is another historic and perhaps the last breaking of the race barrier. Our country needed this. His speeches are influential, he inspires Americans, and the country should move forward as one for a better and truly UNITED States.

Irene Kip said...

I think it's important to focus on the main reasons he was elected...that was not because of his race. He united people in hoping for a positive change..the country is optimistic for the first time in God knows how long. Though the fact that he is the first black president is a huge stride for our country in its claim to equality, hopefully he will live up to his promises and be known as so much more.

laura meminger said...

i think calling him "the first Black President" IS a sign of his achievement. it diminishes nothing. he was elected the next President which is a feat in itself and he just so happens to also be the first Black one. this is how he will be remembered in history, just as George Washington is remembered as the first President.

Shari DaCosta said...

I believe calling him "the first Black President" does not diminish his achievement. This moment is not only exceptional because of his race but because of the change many Americans believe he will bring.

courtney schmidt said...

I believe they played up race a little too much for this election. Obama is half African American, and that IS a great achievement for our country looking back on how society has been over past decades. However, Obama has many great views and many great ideas, that simply focusing on the fact that he is African American... takes away from all that.
I watched the news when I woke up this morning.. and reporter after reporter kept saying "The first black President", and did not mention all of his plans. I just wish they would have focused more on other things while celebrating his victory.

Felicia Pappalardo said...

Fundamentally, the outcome of this election is historical. But, I think I don't just speak for myself when I say that, the color of someone's skin isn't relevant at all to fixing this country. Our federal reserve is going to continue to rule the financial system, and egregious spending won't stop. The only thing that has changed so far is history...We got a black president. We still have to stay on top of Washington, just because a democrat got in, doesn't mean we can just go to sleep on the issues our country faces. We as Americans will generate the change we want to see.

Matt Petrillo said...

People wanted a change from conservatism, but people definitely focus on the color of his skin, or at least minorities seemed to.

Taj said...

I don`t think acknowledging his race takes away from the achievement of president-elect Barack Obama. He wasn`t elected because he is a minority, but that is still historic in itself. If people are proud that a minority is in the White house, let them be. By all means it speaks to the fundamental growth of America that this is possible. Celebrate it all, why not? Shit, I am. Take one for the mixed kids. ^_^

KIERRAY said...

The fact that next president it a black man is one of the most amazing things that will happen in my and many others' lives. The be labeled as the First Black President is, what I consider, an honor. He triumphed, regardless of his race.

Matt Petrillo said...

People say he won despite his race A lot of people don't know Obama's stance on political issues, or neglected looking into other candidates like McCain, or can even recgonize who McKinney is.

We had many other public officials who were black before, like Nutter. In a society where racism is supposedly suppressed, why is it so dramatically emphasized?

Megan McCue Journalism said...

They shouldn't completely concentrate on his race, but it is a historical event.

josh Hirst said...

I agree with megan, it should obviously be taken into account. It is without a doubt a great stride for our country. But it shouldn't be the only thing people see when they look at it. As tacky as it sounds: he represents change. They should see the result of their efforts to try and change the flawed system that politics and government is. He was not elected because he was african-american, he was elected because he's the peoples choice.

Anonymous said...

hes not black, his mom is white

b.crenshaw said...

I feel like the media should discuss both. President Obama [so cool to finally say that] was elected because he was the best choice. BUT the fact that he is an African American in office is still a huge deal; but its not why he was elected. I think that when the media discusses these things they should sure to differentiate between the two. He won because he was obviously the one who America wanted. But because he is an African American man it made his win so much better, at least to African Americans. Being Black, I really do take this victory in two ways. 1] I'm happy that the man with the best ideas and strategies won but 2] I'm so proud of him for helping pave the way in American for more change. Growing up my parents always told me that I could do whatever I put my heart into, but being Black I felt that my choices were still limited. But now seeing that a Black man can reach the highest status America can provide really shows me that I can do anything. It also helps to show how far America has come. Not too long ago Blacks couldn't even vote, and now we have a black man for President. Because he is black, this win is a bigger deal than any other presidential win in history. He beat all the stereotypes and proved all the "haters" wrong. So yes I do believe the media should show both points because it is a huge part of this WONDERFUL WIN!

GO OBAMA!

Matt Plunkett said...

I really don't have a problem with Obama holding either of those titles because both are true. People who admitted they were racist were interviewed on television and admitted they voted for Obama, of course they used a few racist terms, but that isn't really the issue. They thought enough of him as a candidate and a potential leader to look through their racist ideals to help improve their country. Of course their racism is a problem, but by voting for Obama they showed there is hope for an eventual equality within our lifetime.

Antonio Boone said...

I dont think his race diminish's anything about his campaign but like other people said majorty of the media outlets focused on his ethnicity rather than his policies and political beliefs. Even though his being the first African American president is a milestone for the country but its not the entire aspect of his campaign

Geo said...

I guess my question should be re-phrased.

Throughout the campaign, we were told by politicians and pundits that the campaign wasn't about race. It was about selecting the candidate you believed in most.

As soon as Obama wins, race becomes issue number one? Is that fair?

If we were truly in a post-racism, post-prejudice era, it wouldn't matter if the next president was male, female, black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, Buddhist or whatever.

As long as they are American.

I can't wait for that day to arrive.

- George (your teacher who celebrates Obama's victory because Obama is a fellow mixed-race person like him!)

MARCHELLE ROBERTS/TUB59208 said...

I FEEL AS THOUGH THE MEDIA SHOULD NOT FOCUS ON HIS RACE. I KNOW THAT THE FACT THAT HE IS PART BLACK IS A BIG DEAL BECAUSE IT'S A FIRST IN AMERICAN HISTORY BUT I FEEL LIKE PEOPLE NEGLECT THE FACT THAT HE IS ALSO WHITE. I THINK THAT IF HE ACTUALLY LOOKED MORE WHITE THAN BLACK, IT WOULDN'T BE SUCH A BIG DEAL. HE IS AN INTELLIGENT PERSON AND I THINK THAT FOCUSING ON HIS RACE JUST DEMINISHES THAT FACT.

Niajee Ervin said...

ITS FUNNY HOW PEOPLE KEEP STATING THAT PRESIDENT ELECT OBAMA IS HALF WHITE..IF HE NEVER TOLD YOU OR THAT INFORMATION NEVER CAME TO LIGHT WHAT WOULD HE BE TO AMERICA..A LIGHT SKIN BLACK MAN!!! THIS IS A MONUMENTAL MOMENT FOR AMERICA BUT ADDING BLACK IN FRONT OF HIS TITLE DOES NOT INSULT OR MINIMIZE HIS ACHEIVEMENT IT MAKES IT EVEN GREATER BECAUSE HE IS THE FIRST. I COULD UNDERSTAND IF HE WERE THE 2ND OR 3RD FOR THAT MATTER BUT HE IS THE FIRST WHO INSPIRED CHANGE IN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND BECAME PRESIDENT INSPITE OF BLATANT RACISM THAT STILL EXIST TIL THIS DAY