11.06.2008

Free Newspaper! ... And Also A Look At Race In the Wake Of the Obama Election

So in the train station this morning, some representing the local paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, asked me if I wanted a free paper for my commute. He then tried to sell me on a daily delivery to said paper by offering a $3/week subscription. I told him I'd have to discuss it with my wife. To which he replied "You can't make a $3 decision?!"

"Nope." I replied, and walked away.

Anyway, so I've been sort of wishing I subscribed to a newspaper for a while now (Candace & I haven't done so in our married life), but I haven't actually done it. Which is sad, you know? Journalism, especially print journalism, is a fundamental of government. As great as the Internet is, the attention constraints of the average reader (me) preclude any serious reading. It's good for short news bursts (you know, the first couple of paragraphs of a print piece), but an in-depth analysis of an issue or news story isn't it's forte'. I mean, how many of you are going to read this whole blog post? You're probably skimming it, which is fine. But online news suffers from it's medium, which is better suited for short attention spans.

And forget about TV news. They're too beholden to their corporate parents, ratings and, by extension, advertising dollars to focus on anything for more than a soundbite and even then, what you get is filtered and all surface. If you want real, in-depth news, you're left with The News Hour on PBS which is really excellent stuff, but it's borderline boring in it's focus and you have to really pay attention. You can't be cooking/eating dinner while you watch it if you want to glean anything of substance from it.

(And I'm not even going to get into stuff like Fox News or MSNBC which are like dueling biases, although the left-leaning policies at MSNBC haven't leaked into their news organ like they have over at Fox with it's laughably right-wing editorial department. Seriously, Bill O'Reilly is like a turd in a suit and Sean hannity is something grosser than a turd in a suit. I don't know what. I'll leave that up to you. But that's what he is. I will admit, I enjoy some Olberman and Maddow and Mathews, but I know that they're giving me opinions and not necessarily the news. They're pundits. On Fox, the line between their journalists and pundits is getting thinner and thinner each day. Also, the MSNBC guys are pretty self-deprecating and, in the case of Maddow, very insightful and funny. They're a great liberal Op/Ed piece in a good newspaper as opposed to a dreadful comic section over at Fox. They're like a comics section filled with Marmaduke and Mallard Fillmore and The Lockhorns. Dreadful stuff.)

Which leaves the lowly newspaper, which is quickly becoming obsolete. Is this a tragedy? I have no idea. Besides, newspapers aren't going to go away entirely. They may shrink, but I doubt that they will disappear. Am I the only one disturbed by this? Are we going to allow our attention spans to kill off one of the oldest bastions of free speech? Am I totally rambling at this point?

Anyway, so this is a big introduction just to say that I read an Op/Ed piece on the front cover of today's PD that I thought was really interesting in the wake of President-Elect Obama's victory last Tuesday and what that could mean for race relations in America. As great as that victory was, it's by no means the end of the discussion. In fact, you could argue that it was the beginning.

Just read the piece. It's good.

*******

America Begins Its Journey Into A Post-Racial Era
By Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer Columnist
Wednesday, November 05, 2008, 8:30 PM

As I watched tears stream down the face of a highly emotional Jesse Jackson Tuesday night, impertinent questions flooded my mind:

Why was this famous black man weeping? Why did each breath produce a fresh torrent of sobs and shudders. Did this luminary weep, like so many others, as he listened to President-elect Barack Obama, because he realized that America's most impenetrable glass ceiling had shattered?

Or did this particular son of South Carolina weep because he realized that race as a useful construct for confrontation, oppression or contemporary perspective appeared suddenly obsolete? Did he weep at the death of his quest for reparations?

Did Jesse Jackson emote so demonstrably because it was suddenly clear that America, a nation built and anchored upon the dangerous precipice of race, had suddenly lived up to it's most ambitious ideal and dealt its final race card?

In the end, it didn't matter. America had already embarked upon a long deferred dream.

Tuesday, this nation unburdened itself of the albatross of race. The United States elected to its presidency the most improbable Horatio Alger and, in the process, proved that in this nation anything remains possible.

An unprecedented coalition of Americans united to elect Obama, a man, who is being called America's first black president.

The occasion will continue to warrant celebration and sober reflection.

But it is also true that America elected Obama as its 44th white president. His mother was just as white as his African father was black. We just don't know how to talk about it. His bloodlines course through all of us. That, too, warrants deeper reflection, and some celebration, as well.

Obama gives us a new way of looking at race - or better yet, an evolving reason not to consider race at all. And that is part of the promise of his potential. That is part of his gift to America.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the orator can lead. It remains unknown whether this gifted organizer can preside over a nation that faces daunting political challenges and threats.

But America has done its part. Without a blink of an eye, we have just boldly ushered in a new, post-racial era. Once again, we have proven ourselves a nation of leaders: A representative democracy in its truest sense.

Race will continue to matter to some, of course. But its importance is diminished.

Race haters and race apologists will continue to cling to misguided conventions and impotent pasts. But their voices have just grown smaller.

As a nation, we have suddenly grown far more "indivisible." And that's what many Americans now celebrate. We celebrate our maturity.

Two of my favorite Obama supporters went to bed early Tuesday evening, hours before Obama gave his victory speech. They went to bed hopeful. They woke up to what is now being called a "new" America.

I prefer to call it a "better" America.

My 9-year-old daughter called at 6:30, jubilant with the news of the Obama victory. Two hours later, 95-year-old Jean Capers, the first black woman ever elected to Cleveland City Council, rejoiced over breakfast that she had lived to see America's maturation.

These sorts of encounters are happening all over the nation. They will continue for some time. This victory goes far beyond politics, religion, gender, race or creed. It's bigger.

America has completed its evolution into a racial meritocracy.

Obama has been given the opportunity to fail -- or to succeed -- on his own ability, character and luck.

The son of mixed race parents has been given the opportunity to screw up the ultimate leadership opportunity just as badly as white men have. He's also been given the opportunity to soar.

That represents the culmination of the dream. That is the fulfillment of hope and promise.

*******

You can read more of Morris' columns here.

5 comments:

Mr. Feller said...

Good column there, thanks for sharing (are they going to read hat in church on Sunday?). Let me tell you sir, I was fortunate enough to have my wife with me when I was confonted with that "three dollar decision" and this past year has been one of the best of my life. It is great comfort to know that every single morning there is a neatly wrapped bundle of news waiting for me in the driveway. There is magic in the sound of continuing to page B12, a magic you will never have on he Internet. As long as there are presses I will subscribe. Oh yeah, and have you ever walked to work with a newspaper tucked neatly under your arm? I have never felt so sophisticated in all my life (kind of like them time you and I wore our ascots and monocles to class, boy that was fun).

jason quinones said...

Us Weekly isn't news journalism???

chanel said...

thats right you gotta check with the missus! ;)
Way way way great column, thank you for sharing!! Puts a lot of what I/we have all been thinking- especially loved the questions to teary eyed Jackson, he bugs me.

"Obama gives us a new way of looking at race - or better yet, an evolving reason not to consider race at all. And that is part of the promise of his potential. That is part of his gift to America." this was one of my favorites as well as giving him the opportunity to screw up as much as his white predecessors.

Oh and Dylan, loved your previous day's post! you make me laugh!!

Bride said...

i cant believe i read that entire post. its cause im fascinated STILL

Mr. Philippe said...

I can't wait for digital "paper". The news freshly updated via wi-fi and the "paper" can easily be taken into the bathroom- if one is in to that.