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End of a dream?

6 November 2008

One of the most famous speeches in history is Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, in which among other things, he dreams that the day would come when people would not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

With the election of Barack Obama as US President, the speech has been referred to quite a lot.

Has the dream come true at last?

Unfortunately not.

It seems that the media are judging Barack Obama by the colour of his skin, and not by the content of his character.

This became apparent when white TV journalists from Europe were interviewing black people in Africa, and asking them “What do you think of America having a black president?” — thus inviting their interviewees to join them in judging Barack Obama not by the content of this character, but by the colour of his skin.

Racism lives, among other places, on Sky News.

Boo hiss!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 November 2008 8:43 pm

    Hah, well said.

  2. 7 November 2008 2:52 am

    Electoral affirmative action, it would seem. Where I live, I have no doubt that many voted against Sen. Obama precisely because of his skin color, but I’m fairly sure that there were many more who voted for him for the same reason. Radio here aired clip after clip of black folks going on and on about how “one of our people” should be or had been elected. And I know plenty of non-blacks who did it for the same reason, perhaps to tell themselves that they weren’t racist.

    What seems to be missing from much of the hullabaloo is the fact that America’s First Black President is just as white as he is black.

  3. 7 November 2008 9:15 am

    Fr Andrew,

    In an earlier post Sex and skin, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were competing for the Democratic Party nomination, I remarked that media coverage seemed to be concentrated on her sex and his skin.

    But there were people who looked at other things. One blogger remarked on the difference in first person pronouns — Hillary Clinton kept saying “I” — I will do this for you. Barack Obama said “Yes WE can”.

    I can understand black Americans, who in the past have experienced discrimination because of the colour of their skin, feeling that a president like Barack Obama might be more sympathetic. I can understand Africans in general, and Kenyans in particular, feeling that a US president with an African father might be more sympathetic to African problems (unlike Sarah Palin, for example, who apparently thought Africa was a country).

    But the crude racial stereotyping in the media shows that we have a long way to go before Martin Luther King’s dream comes true.

    And the Western media have gone in for similar crude stereotyping in portraying Serbs as the villains of the Balkans. Put not your trust in princes, not in any child of man, for there is no help in them. One can hope that a Democratic president will bring peace, but Bill Clinton was the Bomber of Belgrade. It’s Obama’s actions, rather than his colour, that will count.

  4. 7 November 2008 12:54 pm

    A very interesting perspective! I wonder what history will say about the first “black” American president? Will he be remembered for his policies, his strength of character in difficult times, his willingness to cross party-lines for what he believes in and his ability to govern fairly as leader of the free world. Or will he simply be remembered as the black guy who made history by becoming the first African-American US president?

    Only time will tell.

    In the meantime I hope the media gets its priorities right when reporting on him!

  5. 7 November 2008 4:26 pm

    At one point, Sen. Obama said that the U.S. had 57 states, but because he is the media’s messiah, he was cut slack. (Remember the “my Muslim faith” trip? A bunch of silly people took that as an admission.) I’m pretty sure that Gov. Palin knows that Africa’s a continent and simply tripped up in her speaking. (ABC News actually published a correction on some of this.)

    It honestly amazes me how so many folks really believe that utter idiots get elected to office (e.g., the current U.S. president). One does not get to such an office by being an idiot. One might well do it through corruption and deceit, of course, but not through being an ignoramus. (I’m of the opinion that nearly everyone in a major party running for high-level office is corrupt in some fashion, or else the system wouldn’t let them run.)

  6. 7 November 2008 6:36 pm

    Fr Andrew,

    The question is surely not how much each candidate knows about any conceivable subject, but rather the way the media see the candidates and the questions they ask. And the questions they asked indicated that the thing they thought was most important about Obama was the colour of his skin. They could have asked a lot of other things, but they didn’t.

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