Thursday, November 06, 2008

Secondary Prejudice

I noted a few posts ago that some people opposed to Obama believe some rumors about him that apparently influenced their votes. It bears mentioning that his race was not directly mentioned by them. For all the talk about whether Americans would overcome their prejudices and vote for a black man, the sticking point for them seems to be his Muslim heritage and connections. Granted, people may be more likely to believe those rumors because of his race, but it is worth mentioning that race has become the secondary, not primary driver of the prejudice.

I think it is an adjustment that is still strange to African-Americans. The decrease in prejudice has been quite gradual over the years, and it is easy to remain focused on that which remains. But anti-black prejudice took a major hit on 9-11. A lot of the energy transfered to anti-Islamic prejudice, and black people (without accents) were people you wanted to see waiting in your line at the airport. As much of the energy of prejudice in the southern border states had been transferring to Mexicans for two decades, the landscape changed greatly from one generation to the next. When I were a mere lad, the word prejudice referred to black-white relations as the default setting. You could move the discussion to talk about other prejudices, but that was the automatic response.

Not so now. Prejudice is now associated with confusing and contradictory images. However bad that may be, I can't help but think that diffusion is an improvement, and most especially for African-Americans.

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