A sub-text throughout the last 21 months of the candidacy of Barack Obama has been race. Because of it some voted for the president-elect and some voted against him. But the presidential election of 2008, whatever else it may have accomplished, has dissipated the shadow of racism which has hovered malignantly over American politics for the first 232 years our nation's existence.
What is race? Scientists tell us it is nothing more than a human construct; that is, something the human mind has devised, without basis in biological reality. Racial identity may seem as plain as the skin on our bodies; but the Good Book long ago anticipated the hematologist's conclusion that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." (Acts 17:27 KJV). The American experience of the African slave adds an exclamation mark to this claim of the Apostle Paul, when white slave-owners fathered children with black servants. To mention the names of Virginian Thomas Jefferson and Carolinian Strom Thurmond (stalwart Methodist too!) brings with them reports of miscegenation.
To my mind miscegenation (the voluntary kind) is not just allowable; for the future of humanity it is favorable. I would go as far as saying, personally, it's been a blessing, a double blessing.
This afternoon Barbara took a family portrait. Here it is.
Of course, you guessed correctly. But if you didn't, identity left to right is: Robert, Bob, and Henry. Yeah, yeah, the old hairy, veiny arm is mine. But you surely noticed which arm was the darkest: the one in the middle, and not just because of the hair. Don't blame tanning. I wear long sleeves most of the year. I am just darker than my grandsons who on any application for college could identify themselves as African-American. Their mother prefers the racial identity of "Mixed." So much for skin pigmentation as an indicator of race.
The analysis of the voting patterns of November 4th hint that my generation, born before the end of World War II, may be the last on which racism's shadow has lingered in these United States. Once we are gone skin pigmentation will be thought of in its infinite variety not as black and white. Our grandsons already have begun to distinguish among their friends' complexions with the words "dark" and "light," "brown" and "pasty." (You're right, that last one is mine).
Barriers remain to electability to the nation's highest office. Gender, of course. But, as I said to gym buddy Sal yesterday, "Italian-American next." The Bernheimers next door would be quick to add, for their children's sake, "Jewish."