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Saturday, 15 November 2008

Barack Obama and Martin Luther King's Dream

A generation ago Martin Luther King stated he had a dream: that people should be judged on the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. Fast-forward to the current day and thousands are celebrating the fulfilment of this dream in the election of Barack Obama as US President.

There is an irony here; people are saying Obama’s election is great because he is black; it is good that a “black man” has taken office. The result is being evaluated on the basis of the “colour” of the president-elect’s skin. Everyone, who praises Obama’s ascendancy for these reasons, is in fact rejecting King’s dream.

Ironically King’s dream is being upheld by those conservatives, like Robert George, who opposed Obama’s pursuit of the Presidency on the basis of his character. Such conservatives considered the kinds of values Obama holds to and the policies he supported on the basis of these values to be lacking.

To celebrate Obama’s election because a black man has finally been elected to office without heeding the concerns about his character is exemplify the very racism that Martin Luther King was speaking against.


  1. Point well made. I will add however that Blacks do see themselves as different to Whites based on oppression as well as victimhood (being fuelled by Black leaders).

    A positives of a Black president is that it shows that Americans are less racist than claimed. Also Blacks may be more likely to reject the victimhood mentality and take up a can-do one.

  2. Bethyada, that's right - a black president is very much likely to inspire American black people to "reject the victimhood mentality and take up a can-do one".
    The hugely disproportionate amount of blacks who do not vote in the US signifies their disillusionment with the political system, and no doubt many are also disillusioned with the US's economic system. It's early days yet but it's likely the symbolic value of a black man as the president will do much to counter this disillusionment.
    THIS is a very good, non-racist reason to be pleased that a "black man has finally been elected to office"; I for one am very optimistic about what he'll do for the US on precisely those grounds (and others), despite my concern around his view on abortion.
    I do agree it's unfortunate that so much of the political talk was about his skin colour, or indeed Palin and Clinton's gender. It seems inevitable, because of certain unhealthy undercurrents in our culture...and because of human nature. The upside of it all is that now Obama's been elected, skin colour won't be such a big deal in future elections, and MLK's dream will become more universally realised.


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