How Has Our First Black President Helped the Race Conversation

Apr 29, 2012

"The First Black President Has Made It Harder to Talk About Race in America"
The Washington Post Opinions
April 2012

"...No one wants to admit that Obama’s election has changed the way we talk about race. But he’s the elephant in the room peering over so many discussions. His election is part of the reason that blacks, especially those who have 'made it,' are hesitant to talk about persistent racial inequality. We don’t want to be accused of whining or being angry for bringing up a problem that many people think is now relegated to history. After all, if Obama could do it, so can any black man, right?

"How do I explain how it feels to have almost every accomplishment that I’ve ever achieved be attributed to affirmative action? Most recently, a white PhD student in my program told me that I would sail through graduate school and land a wonderful gig, despite the difficult job climate, because of the 'black thing.'

"It would be unreasonable to ask the president to spend most of his time talking about race... He seems to speak about race only when absolutely necessary. That’s disappointing. We need more than a beer summit to hash out the very real problems that he talked about just four years ago."

Complete opinion by Reniqua Allen is a freelance journalist and a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation.