Trevor Phillips in an article appearing in the magazine, Prospect, warns the election of
Barack Obama will result in a set-back to the rights of African Ameicans. Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human rights Commission, warned Obama’s election would prolong rather than end America’s racial divide. He beleives there are two types of black leaders in America both of whom keep race at the heart of US life -”bargainers” whose ambitions are limited to winning piecemeal concessions, and “bargainers” who do not make an issue of wite racism. “In truth,” says Phillips, “Obama may be helping to postpone the arrival of a post-racial America and I think he kows it….In the end he is a politician, and a very good one.” Pillips apparently supports the contention of Shelby Steele who argues if Obama fulfills the hopes of whites he disappoints blacks and vice versa.
The British fighter for human rights somehow has concluded “the people who actually experience just how far America remains from post-racial harmony are those blacks who work with whites.” Unfortunately, the British authority on human rights offers no evidence to support his wild accusations other than the pen of glittering generalites. It is unclear exactly what Mr. Phllips knows regarding the thinking of blacks who work with whites as to their prospects of succeeding in American society. Is there racism in America? Of course there is. Have there been dramatic changes in white attitudes regarding the rights and job and housing rights of African Americans? Of course there have.
Rhetoric concerning post-racial America consists of vague comments about a world that consists of words rather than explanations regarding how that world will function. The election of Barack Obama would be a revolutionary event in American and the western world. What is meant by the expression “post racial America?” Does it connotate a society in which each person’s human integrity is respected? if so, the United States is walking down that road although the end of the road lies in the distance. But, as Martin Luther King understood, it is the first step which gets the trip in motion. Someday, we will come to the end of the road, and, at that point, have to build new roads. I find it sad Mr. Phillips is unable to grasp the significant changes that have occurred in Americn society over the past fifty years. In making that statement, it in no ways claims the situation is free from biogtry and prejudice.