Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black in America- Obama-style

Now that the much-talked about and anticipated presidential forum at the UNITY Journalists convention is over, we have to ask ourselves, what did we learn?

Well, at first, my response would be-- NOT MUCH.

Perhaps it was naive of me to think that the black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian-American journalists, who reportedly numbered 6000, at the UNITY Convention would plow some new ground today.

They stuck with the same basic questions any journalist would ask after a candidate returns from an overseas trip. (This I will address more in a separate posting later)

Instead, what we got was a reminder of what it means to be Black in America and run for political office.

There have been blacks in political office since the Reconstruction period. But, never before have we seen a high-profile political campaign involving an African American candidate as we do now with Senator Barack Obama.

That's why I noticed at three (3) times in this morning's questioning the Illinois Senator in answering questions fired back "why am I being asked that question" (Implying that his opponent was not asked that)

It's the whole concept of the double-standard where a candidate is treated differently from his opponent. Obama clearly believed the questions about his shifting positions on Iraq, his overseas trip and constant false reports of his being Muslim were questions that his opponent, Senator John McCain did not receive.

I am not saying that those questions were not fair questions-- but the fact that the candidate suggested he was being asked questions his opponent was not (being asked) raises the issue of how one's racial background influences the direction of a political campaign.

The "unknown" factor plays prominently in the debate about Obama's supposed shifting positions, the crowds and media interest in his trip to Europe and the Middle East and the discussions about his religious affiliation.

When a candidate of color tries to break the racial barrier, he or she can expect the "unknown" factor to bring with it a double standard in how his/her campaign is covered.

The questions by the journalists may be fair questions, but they are being asked because the candidate is different and that exposes the double standard-- treating a candidate differently.

It's just one key observation one can make as a result of today's forum at the UNITY Journalists Convention.

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