Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: As American as Apple Pie

Posted at 11:54 am, November 11th, 2008
Carolyn Lewis Mug

I suppose it was inevitable that media folk should at first insist on describing Barack Obama as the first African-American president-elect. Even now some are still pinching themselves, finding it hard to believe that this is so. The other day MSNBC’s Chris Matthews confessed as much on the air during his “Hardball” program.

My hope is that in time we can look beyond Obama’s race and focus instead on his more significant attributes like his intelligence, calm and tact. We are going to quickly find that it isn’t his race, but rather his singularity as a human being, that will be most telling as he takes the reins in January.

He will be The President, not the black president, and it would be mighty helpful if those who write and talk about him finally let go of the race adjective that, by its nature, tends to separate him from the varied mass of people he represents.

What we’ve surely learned is that the words we use do matter, and the words used by reporters and pundits can either emphasize the separateness implied in mentioning Obama’s color, or ignore it and move on.

The election itself revealed that a large number of voters were well ahead of the political reporters. While reporters sliced and diced the electorate into groups by race, ethnicity, and gender, most voters had already leaped across the barriers and chose to vote for someone they simply believed was the best candidate. The categories became irrelevant on Election Day, but until now the press seems to have missed the point.

What is revealed is the basic fact about our countrymen, that we are of many opinions, many pasts, many hues, and our president-to-be is not The Other, but rather as American as mom’s apple pie. And what a tasty, surprising pie that is.

One Response to “As American as Apple Pie”

  1. Suzie Kidder says:

    Nice Piece. I agree. It may be that I have family members who are African-American and Asian-American – some of the most gorgeous children you’ll ever see by the way – but Barack Obama became the Presidential candidate I supported who just happened not to be Caucasian.

    And why is it that we need to preface any description of any non-Caucasian human being in this country with a racial adjective? Why does the media not feel it must describe someone as “white woman” or better yet a “Caucasian woman” who just did x,y,z? Instead, she is labeled blond, brunette or red head.

    One of the most positive aspects of this last election is the dawning realization that the majority of people in this country just might have finally become grown-ups … following in the footsteps of our kids who got there way before us … “Teach your parents well ….”

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