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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Post-racial USA after Obama not happening

By NNPA Columnist Nicole C. Lee

Source: Frost Illustrated

Since the Obama-phenomenon began, some commentators have clamored to declare the U.S. racial problems a thing of the past. Mimicking Francis Fukuyama’s notion of the “end of history,” these pundits claim that now that the U.S. has a black president, the verdict is in: people of color can stop worrying. Racism is finished. The glorious post-racial era has begun.


Remember election night? When Obama was declared the projected winner, we cheered and hugged. A few minutes later, we were on the streets celebrating with thousands of other black, white and brown strangers. It was a great moment, a confirmation that change is possible. But unlike a fairy tale, happily ever after in this so-called postracial America is not a foregone conclusion.

As the honeymoon begins to wear off, all too soon because of the financial crisis, experts looking at foreign policy will tell you clearly that post-racial America is still executing policies that are anything but “post-racial.”

The Obama administration has decided not to participate in the World Conference Against Racism. This is a United Nation conference whose purpose is to look at the effects of racism in countries and regions, and to develop progress benchmarks that countries agree to meet. The U.S. attended the conference in 2001 only to pull out before agreeing to the document, disagreeing with language about the Israel- Palestinian conflict as well as language about reparations for slavery. Two weeks ago, the Obama administration sent a team to negotiate terms by which the U.S. would agree to participate but in the end, they determined that the U.S. would not participate in this multilateral event.

The WCAR was not a perfect process; the final document was certainly not perfect. But, this conference is one of the most important processes to globally address the legacy and current realities of racism. Where else can people of Africa and the African Diaspora in places like Europe, the Middle East, all over Latin America and even the U.S. come together to address racism and xenophobia, and have their voices heard?

The Congressional Black Caucus has shown leadership in their dedication to still attend the conference despite the administration’s decision. But, it is extremely detrimental for the first administration led by an African American to not send an official delegation to a conference that needs the leadership that Obama can uniquely provide.

Unfortunately, post-racial America also seems to mean that Haitian immigrants still will be afforded disparate treatment. The government of Haiti has requested Temporary Protected Status, a designation that would suspend deportations to Haiti, because four hurricanes hit last year, but the U.S. has refused to grant the request. Haiti is in the midst of a humanitarian disaster. The storms cost Haiti 15 percent of its total GDP, and Haitian children are eating pies made of mud due to the lack of food.

Even though countries in Central America such as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have received TPS in the aftermath of natural disasters, Haiti has never received it. In the first 50 days of Obama’s administration, more than 30,000 Haitians received deportation orders.

Mothers are being deported even though they have husbands and children who are U.S. citizens. Young people without families in Haiti are being deported with no safety net. Some have said the policy towards Haiti is not racially based. But, given this disparate treatment and the legacy of poor treatment of Haitians who come to our shores with legitimate claims, what other conclusion can be found? More HERE

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