Saturday, January 17, 2009

I can finally talk with most of my friends.

How did we communicate before Barack Obama? Oh yeah, through television.

Talk About Race? Relax, It’s O.K., by Sarah Kershaw, New York Times via Jezebel.

. . . over the last few months, both Mr. Rice and Ms. Knox, who live in Washington, have been struck by the slight easing of these examples of what psychologists describe as "interracial anxiety" between blacks and whites. That is because there is a now an omnipresent icebreaker: Barack Obama.

"There’s a more readily accessible conduit into the conversation about race if it begins with Barack Obama," said Mr. Rice, the executive director of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials — International, a professional law enforcement group. "In my experience over the last few months, it’s easier because it’ll begin with who he is, the differences between his parents, what he had to deal with." . . .

. . . "Before Obama, there was always this thing — 'He's a black doctor,'" Mr. Jackson said. “But now I’m going to be a physician who also happens to be black. That’s become the perception now, which is really nice." . . .

. . . On the morning after the election, Kristin Rothballer, 36, who lives in San Francisco, kissed her female partner goodbye on the train while commuting to work. A black woman who sat down next to her turned and said she was sorry that Proposition 8, the amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, looked like it was going to pass.

"We grabbed hands," Ms. Rothballer recalled. "And I said, 'Well, I really want to congratulate you because we have a black president and that’s amazing.'"

"Our conversation then almost became about the fact that we were having the conversation," she said.

Something moved her to apologize to the black woman for slavery. [Readers, do not do this.]

"For two strangers riding a train to Oakland to have that conversation about race, it wouldn't have been possible if Obama hadn't been elected," she said. 'I always felt open with my colleagues, but to say to a stranger on the train, 'Hey, I’m sorry about slavery,' that just doesn’t happen."

It's too bad that with Bill Richardson gone, I still can't talk with my Latino friends. I doubt I'll ever be able to talk with my Asian friends, or to my friends who don't fit into the ethnic roles designated by the U.S. Census.

Also, this article was in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times. I guess black is the new black. Oy.


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