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Race should not be ignored in politics

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012

Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 01:08

U.S. politics are raceophobic.

As talk show host Chris Matthews chastised former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney for his racially undertoned birther jokes and Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer said President Barack Obama has played the “race card” by touting the fact that he is the first black president, according to Politico, the debate that has quietly crept into the Republican National Convention (RNC) begs the question: Is there a place for race in politics?

In a postmodern world where all are on a level playing field, there is no need for race to be involved in politics.

But the fact remains that we are not in a postmodern world. We are in a world where wounds of racial intolerance and bigotry are still displayed daily, and not all are on a level playing field — instead, systemic socioeconomic inequality prevails and remains an issue across the U.S.

As recently as Wednesday, the news of boorish RNC attendees thrown out for throwing peanuts at a black CNN journalist and saying, “this is how we feed animals,” broke.

According to a report from the State of Black America, black Americans are still twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and six times more likely to be arrested than white
Americans.

Clearly, ignoring race does not erase the deep roots of racism that remain woven into a society that prides itself on diversity and acceptance.

If race cannot be ignored in society, then perhaps it should stop being swept under political carpets.

But that does not mean that parties must parade their minority members to prove acceptance.

Nor should leaders whose roots stem from minority communities, like Barack Obama, born to a white mother and Kenyan father, or Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose grandfather immigrated to the U.S. almost 100 years ago, bear the sole responsibility for drawing attention to issues of racial inequity.

Rather, while the race of political candidates may bear little significance to their political standpoints or qualifications, the fear of discussing race in politics needs to quickly dissolve for progress to be made in society.

Politicians should be spearheading the dialogue that will bring the U.S. to a society where race can be ignored.

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