Let me apologize up front for this post. I don't want to rain on the parade. Obama's election is the most amazing thing I've witnessed and it is hard to overstate what happened in this country yesterday. Let me correct that. What happened didn't just happen last night, it's been happening for decades. Last night was just the finishing touch.
Now for the rain. It's worth investigating whether last night really was the end of racism in this country, as some seem to suggest. David Shuster and Chris Matthews were just on my TV talking about the racial barrier being shattered. The New York Times reported that the election swept "away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease." But I'm not convinced.
The first thing I woke up to this morning -- the Chicago Tribune -- had a different take. On its front page was a sobering thought: "The Obama presidency may be a sign that a country that all too recently tolerated segregation has moved irrevocably forward, or it may mean only that the nation is so hungry for change that it set racial struggles aside."
The racism in this country is too deep to be swallowed with one election. Dr. King's dream was not realized last night. This discussion is not over.
It's a time to celebrate for sure. It's a time to cry in joy, no doubt. It's a time to reflect on where the country has been and how much we have accomplished. But it is also a time to realize that there is a lot more to do.
It's hard to imagine a Democrat of any color would have lost this year's election. Not even John Kerry could lose after eight years of George Bush. In other words, this election was more about removing Republicans from office than burying our racist past.
Before we start saying that last night was final proof that Jefferson's "all men are created equal" crede has finally become a reality, consider this: On the same day we elected our first black president, one of our most progressive states voted to ban gay marriage in the state's constitution.