There is an article in the Washington Times today, describing the current mayoral race in Atlanta. From the headline to the last paragraph, the content of the article is almost entirely about race – the race of the candidates, the racial mixture of city residents, the race of past mayors in the city, etc. What generated the article is the fact that Atlanta may be about to elect the first white mayor in 36 years.
After reading the article I was struck by its misleading tone. In fact I think the headline, “White candidate scrambles vote, attitudes in Atlanta race” is not only misleading, it is just plain wrong. What is most newsworthy about the article is the fact that race of the leading candidate, a white woman, seems to be a non issue for most voters.
So why not a headline that reads, “Race plays little or no role in current election”? The answer of course is that there are many who simply don’t believe such a thing is possible. Loud voices remind us daily how our racial past is the lens through which all things must be viewed. But what if it’s just not true anymore? What if racism is no longer a major factor in elections? Will our current climate of color-coding and color-obsession even allow us to acknowledge such a thing?
I can’t help but think Martin Luther King would be rather disappointed if he saw what his great civil rights struggle had become, for in some ways his dream seems even farther off today than it was in 1963. For in spite of significant evidence that people are being judged by the content of their character, there are many in the public forum who would have us believe it is all about the color of their skin.