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 Racism, Sexism and Discontent: The Election in Black and White


“ Until the color of a man’s skin, is no more important than the color of his eyes…”

Bob Marley (taken from a 1963 speech by Haile Selassie to the United Nations)


In the 1960’s Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” and Fatimah Ali is living proof of Warhol’s prophesy. Ali, a relatively unknown contributor to the Philadelphia Daily News said the unthinkable when she wrote, “If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness – and hopelessness!” This line is what will be remembered from what was otherwise an opinionated but well written article.


By using two words, “race war”, Ali went where no other attention starved blogger or alternative news entity dared to go. The implication of racism and class warfare in an election featuring a black man, Democrat Barack Obama, and a woman, Republican Sarah Palin, discredits their many personal achievements and trivializes the gains the Civil Rights movement fought to obtain.


Singer/master promoter Diddy aka P. Diddy aka Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy is doing his best not to be confused with Bob Marley. In an online video after Sarah Palin was selected as John McCain's running mate Diddy announced, "Alaska? I don't even know if there's any black people in Alaska. If you really think we're gonna let you win the election with these crazy decisions that you're making, your bugging." Diddy, if your really interested, almost 26,000 blacks live in Alaska along with 38,000 Hispanics, 103,000 American Indians and 31,000 Asians. In total, minorities actually make up more than 33% of Alaska's total population.


If anyone still wonders why entertainers should not talk about politics, Sandra Bernhard, who at one time was famous for being Sandra Bernhard, issued a warning that Republican VP nominee Palin would be "gang raped by my big black brothers" when she makes a campaign stop in New York City.


In a desperate attempt at reclaiming their fifteen minutes of fame, Saturday Night Live, an NBC program that hasn't had attention since John Belushi died, aired a sketch that implied that Sarah Palin's husband Todd was guilty of incest.


Until now, the fact that race and gender have not been issues in the 2008 presidential elections are a testimony to how far race relations and civil rights have come since the death of Martin Luther King. Even in his “dream”, Dr. King could not have envisioned a person of color being considered for the highest office in the United States just 45 years after his famous “I Have A Dream” speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 23, 1963.


In 2006 the US Census Bureau indicated that for the first time minorities comprise more than 100 million of the 300 million people living in the United States. Since 1967 the income of black family households has increased 31% while white family households increased 18%. While minority total household income still is less than white household income the gap between the two is closing as larger numbers of minorities obtain higher levels of education.


In the current Senate and House of Representatives, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians hold 80 seats verses 3 seats in 1970. The appointment of Condoleezza Rice as the 66th United States Secretary of State has broken both race and gender barriers. Our current Congress has 16 female Senators and 74 women in the House, the highest numbers in Congressional history. In the 2008 presidential elections both Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin have played prominent roles. Since females make up more than 50% of the United States population we should be thankful that Ms. Ali did not predict a “full-fledged gender war”.


Fatimah Ali’s choice of words were designed to be inflammatory and garner attention. In reality, they are offensive to all women and minorities in the United States who by hard work and perseverance have created newfound levels of success.  


Apparently, Fatimah Ali is not ready to relinquish her fifteen minutes of fame. In a Sept 16th Op-Ed Ali responded to outraged readers by writing, "We don't have to wait until after the election for a race war. We're in one now." As a journalist, Ali knows the power of words and rather than let her column die a well deserved death she chose to throw gasoline on the fire instead of putting it out.


As the presidential election gets closer, lets not let "race" become an issue instead of issues deciding the race.


Listen to or read Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" 



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