Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama

Go and read.

These posts, when read within the context of Coates' commentaries on Affirmative Action a while back, make Coates' essential point about Affirmative Action: that it's in essence a cosmetic sop that appears to right historic wrongs with as little cost to The System as possible; it doesn't fix the educational and economic poverty needed to be fixed so as to raise all the boats in the harbor. In its essence, AA isn't intended to make impossible the ascendancy of the economically-disenfranchised into good jobs, much less positions of power, but neither does it make that more possible.

Obama's emergence is the exception that proves Coates' argument about AA. Those cheered by or outraged by where Obama is (and anyone who paid close attention during the primaries know that plenty of Democrats as well as Republicans, blacks as well as whites, fall on both sides of that divide, too) both understand that, even though they may not realize they understand it.

Win or lose, Obama's story is not an AA success story. It's an American success story. Read any behind-the-scene story about his on-the-ground operations during the primaries or the elections, and you'll be stunned. I'm not especially happy that in his Chicago days he has associated with some of the people that he has; but, as has also often been pointed out, the fact that those people are in positions of power now despite their pasts is an indictment on all who have allowed them to acquire their power and positions in the first place--and that goes for lots of conservative Republicans, too. In any even, those people have nothing to do with this campaign. Obama has earned this, by outworking else, by not buying into narratives of inevitability (not just Hillary Clinton's version of that narrative, either). There's simply no other conclusion, and--honest political disagreements aside--whoever says otherwise is ignorant or blind.

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