Race doesn’t matter!

Since I was doing the live gig at ETV last night, I missed a lot of the action at the Obama victory rally. I heard his wonderful speech, and that was about it.

But afterwards, I spoke to Inez Tenenbaum, and it seems I missed a lot that it would have been great to have witnessed. One, which I’ll just mention and move on, was when Bill Clinton appeared on a screen and the crowd booed, probably the only negative moment in that night of joy. But it marked an important moment, in terms of S.C. Democrats rejecting the kind of hyperpartisan, do-anything-to-win approach to politics that the former president, Sen. Clinton, and their supporters (think Don Fowler) embodied. As Inez said, "Would you ever have imagined a crowd of South Carolina Democrats booing Bill Clinton?" Until last week, no.

But that sour note just served to emphasize the alternative that had just been embraced so emphatically by South Carolina voters — the joy, the hope, the welcoming, the affirmation that filled the hearts of the hundreds of thousands who came out to vote for Barack Obama.

And that led to what had to be the high point of the night — indeed, a high point in South Carolina history: That room full of people, black and white, young and old — but predominantly young — chanting "Race doesn’t matter! Race doesn’t matter!"

People who had long been involved in struggling to make South Carolina a better place for all people, only to be disappointed so many times as things dissolved in acrimony, looked at each other in disbelief, with chills running down their spines. They truly never thought they would see the day.

This was more than just a bunch of charged-up supporters giving a team cheer. It was THE message of the day. A half million people had turned out, thousands upon thousands of them who had never voted before or hadn’t voted in years because they were so turned off by politics as usual, and the overwhelming majority had chosen the man who embodies the fact that race doesn’t matter. He embodies it in his own life — a man with a white mother and a black, immigrant father, who grew up in Hawaii (and if you haven’t lived in Hawaii — I graduated from high school there — you can’t imagine the degree to which our whole mainland black-vs.-white thing makes NO sense to the people of the islands) and abroad, a man who can’t be pegged, either in his skin or his mind or soul, as being THIS or THAT.

And he embodies it in his message, as he so eloquently encapsulated in his victory speech (and as soon as I get the full text I’ll post it here).

They were, in advance, repudiating the divisive, identity-politics, racist message that the Clintons will try to see between now and Super Tuesday (I understand that Bill has already said something like well, Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, too, as I had predicted he would). The very fact that the man whose message was the Race Doesn’t Matter got 80 percent of the black vote speaks volumes. That that was the chant in this moment of victory — rather than some cry of triumph on the part of blacks, or women (the majority of whom ALSO went for Obama), or any other demographic group — marked this as a tremendous moment in American history.

And that it happened HERE, in South Carolina, where once the majority of the state’s population was enslaved, where the Civil War started, where so many live in deep, inherited poverty, after all the scorn we have had to endure from the rest of the country over our race-based pathologies — what a wonderful, triumphant day for the people of this state!

Yesterday, we overcame so much. Thank God for this. We have overcome so much. Now, South Carolina has set the most positive example that can be set for the rest of the nation. I pray that the rest of the nation will understand the message. It has to; it just has to.

Because Race Doesn’t Matter!

28 thoughts on “Race doesn’t matter!

  1. Cecile

    Hi, thank you for this wonderful entry. I am living in a caribbean island where “race doesn’t matter” and it brought tears to my eyes.

  2. alison weil

    I was there
    I also felt the chant “race doesn’t matter” was so meaningful
    especially with the mix of the crowd
    especially standing next to my 18 year old daughter who will be able to vote for the first time for President Obama

  3. Dave

    Race does matter to most americans. White, black or whatevery race a person might be butI dont believe that Obama is ready yet, maybe in 4 or 8 years. Now is not the time for a black person to occupy the white house.

  4. Karen McLeod

    It saddens me to see these people insisting that race ‘does matter’. Yeah, it matters to them. But there’s a big wide world out there where the only race is ‘human.’ And that’s much of the world to be. If we cut anyone completely out, we lose their gifts. Inclusion is “in!” Thanks be to God!

  5. Flo

    It saddens me to know that S.C. isn’t as sophisticated re: race relations as so many media pundits seem to think it is. From the very beginning, it was pretty apparent to us ordinary folks that the vote would go along racial lines and that South Carolinians (and maybe most Americans) would be unlikely to vote for a woman. After all, black men got the vote first. Obama’s a good guy, and I’ll vote for him if he gets the nomination, btw.

  6. Kenneth

    I agree that race should not matter, but it is very obvious that it still does. Many blacks voted for Obama solely because he is black, not because he could be the best candidate.

  7. Have You No Decency?

    Again (notably for the ignorant ones who continue to insist on a racial double standard):
    QUESTION for the RACE BAITERS: In the past, when whites voted for white presidential canditates, did we accuse whites of voting along racial lines? Are we to assume whites didn’t care about such issues as the economy, job rates, etc. and simply voted for a candidate because he was white like them? If we believe this, then why didn’t we make an issue of this racial voting THEN when white males were the candidates?
    So, why is it that when blacks vote for a black presidential canditate, it must be along racial lines? What is going on with this double-standard, insidious rhetoric? Voting along racial lines is NEVER an issue when whites vote for whites; now that blacks vote for blacks, we must address this issue? Needless to say, your argument holds no water.
    It’s this sort of double standard that continues to keep us divided, and I am thankful that Barack Obama carefully and thoughtfully addressed this issue in his SC victory speech. Those of you who continue blindly touting the issue of race because of the fears that lurk in your hearts, should be ashamed of yourselves.
    And for those of you who continue to insist that Obama transcend his race, I ask you: ‘Did you ask Ronald Reagan, George Bush (I&II), Bill Clinton, to transcend their whiteness? How come you didn’t ask for transcendence, then? Again, double-standard. This is despicable.

  8. Have You No Decency?

    Dear Mr. Warthen:
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, and in order to maintain my wellness, must log off; I want to say I am surprised by the level of racism and ignorance some of your commenters have displayed, but the truth is, I am quite used to it.
    I wish you all the best in your journalism work, as I see that you have quite an uphill climb, given the kinds of reactionary opinions that exist around you. All the best to you and others who believe in democracy, and a unified nation.

  9. Bill C.

    If “race doesn’t matter”, why did Obama get 80% of the black vote when before voting most everyone was undecided or there seemed to be a 50-50 split between Obama and Hillary? It seems to me that when asked the black voters said one thing and voted strictly on race. But it doesn’t really matter now does it… unless they can get 80% of the black voters in every other state to follow their lead. It’s been said that Super Tuesday will be the next big shock to the Obama campaign.
    BTW – I’m a Republican who is amazed at the way the media is playing this up as the deciding factor for our next president. SC will vote Republican regardless of who the Democratic nominee is.

  10. Karen McLeod

    The reason there’s a lot of black vote, is because they didn’t come out B 4. To take is farther than that is to say that the people who came out B 4 are purely white racists. There have been lots of black voters before, but no one has ever gone out of their to argue their support because they were the minority. And they didn’t care to vote. The young’uns got out this time, and a lot of us spent a lot of time getting out the vote, because we care. I’m white. I’m female. I’m 61. And Obama is the best chance for a good, comprehensive government I’ve seen in a long time. It’s time we realized that this is not about color; it’s about people. Furthermore, it’s about people getting tired of promises that cannot be fulfilled–the ‘what can i give u’ form of campaigning. We want a way to give; something that involves us, that call us to work together.

  11. Lake

    The exit polls in South Carolina show about 75%-80% for the black vote went to the black candidate and about 75% of the white vote went to the two white candidates.
    And you say race did not matter in the vote in South Carolina? Since about 54% of the voters were black, the black candidate received 55% of the vote and the white candidates split 45% of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary, I would conclude that race DID MATTER. The margin of victory for Obama was clearly due to his race.
    The fact of the race issue (past and present) in the South Carolina clealy comes into play also when black voters vote for a Obama. And it is all understandable and reasonable. What is not understandable and reasonabe is your conclusion that race did not pay a huge part in the margin of the Obama victory in South Carolina.

  12. Crankie

    Race sells a lot of newspapers. Pitchfork Ben may think he is dead, but by the time Brad and the State, and the NAACP get finished with him, he will be a star all over again, and the trouble and strife arising from it will help the State’s bottom line.
    So the State continues to ignore the waste fraud and abuse of state government in favor of picking at the scabs of racism. The State ignores the true and present needs of the people in order to satisfy their own selfish needs.

  13. Lee Muller

    Apparently the empty rhetoric, lack of substance and socialist anti-Americanism of Obama don’t matter to any of his supporters.
    In a different way, he is as dangerous to America as is the scheming world-government socialist, Hillary Clinton.
    The good news that the election of either one will probably bring about a reaction greater than that against the bumbling of Jimmy Carter and the corruption of Bill Clinton. By then the GOP will have cleansed itself of the progressives like McCain and Huckabee, and the taxpayers will have a real choice in leadership to clean up America. It may even come in the form of a third party.

  14. weldon VII

    Have you gone bonkers?
    “The very fact that the man whose message was that Race Doesn’t Matter got 80 percent of the black vote speaks volumes.”
    Eighty percent of the black vote went for the black man. Seventy-five percent of the white vote went for the white guys.
    So black voters are more loyal by race than white voters.
    That’s all you can read into what happened in South Carolina Saturday, if indeed that five percent difference is statistically significant.
    There’s no indication that Obama’s message made any difference whatsoever. If anything, it was an anti-Clinton vote.
    And yet you peddle this embarrassing, pie-in-the-sky BS about us overcoming so much. The numbers indicate we overcame absolutely nothing.
    Black went black, white went white, and yet you read the end of the racial divide into it.
    Go see a therapist. You need help.

  15. Michael Rodgers

    In my opinion, what “race doesn’t matter” means to Barack Obama’s volunteers and supporters is that
    1) We all want to work together, regardless of race, to solve the problems facing our country. And we want as many people as possible, regardless of race, to join us.
    2) We know that Barack Obama is an inspirational leader who is dedicated to helping us work together and who has the education, intellect, and experience to do a fantastic job as President.
    As to the South Carolina exit polls, yes, many more African-Americans voted for Barack Obama than whites did. If you think the reason is solely or even primarily “identity politics,” I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.
    If Hilary Clinton would have built an organization up from scratch in South Carolina, like Barack Obama did, instead of relying on the political establishment to deliver for her, then she could have gotten much higher than 20% of the African-American vote. Think about it, she achieved 140,000 votes, and the 2004 SC primary had 280,000 voters. Her strategy would have achieved 50% in 2008, except for the fact that Barack Obama’s new organization brought in voters who were not part of the Democratic establishment. Hilary Clinton and John Edwards (whose higher percentage is due to his local connection) got more of the white vote because whites are more likely to be part of the establishment.
    Many of the previously disenfranchised were African-Americans, and the fact that Barack Obama reached out beyond the political establishment resulted in their enfranchisement, which translated into votes for him, because he earned them through work and organization. The white vote that Barack Obama got had to either 1) break off from the political establishment or 2) be reached out to because they were previously unenfranchised.
    It’s easier to get someone who is new to the process to vote for you than to get someone in the establishment to tell their friends no, I won’t vote for the establishment candidate because I’m going to go work for the guy who inspires me.
    Seeing how Barack Obama worked for every vote, his 24% of the white vote and 78% of the black vote is astonishing in its unifying achievement. When he gets the Democratic nomination, he’ll be the grass-roots candidate and the establishment candidate, and he’ll win South Carolina’s electoral votes for President. It’s amazing and awesome, and that’s what “race doesn’t matter” is all about.
    Michael Rodgers
    Columbia, SC

  16. Mattheus Mei

    I agree with Mr. Rodgers of Columbia and ‘Have You No Decency’ The only people who want to make this about race are the people who want to make this about race. I must say Mr. Warthen I was a bit miffed with the Article written by Mr. Wayne Washington for today’s (01/28/08) issue. It was more than a bit coloured with bias than I would have thought the paper would have allowed for publication as a news piece. I’ve blogged about it and encouraged my readership this slight. But in all things else I’m a loyal reader of the State and a fan of your writing sir!

  17. Eric

    I just hate soo much that i wasn’t there. But nonetheless, I have attended a few of his rallies, and I watched it on TV.
    Some people on this board are saying “Race does matter”. I understand their point but I think they are not looking at it correctly. Race is a FACT, but not a FACTOR. No one can help who they are..and its a fact that people are a certain color. But Race is not determining anything in this bid for the White House.
    I am a Black man, and I’ve not endorsed many of the previous black candidates. But thats only because there was someone whom I thought to be better at the time- be it white, or whatever. I now get accused of supporting Obama for the reason that he is black. That is not true, however. It’s so much deeper. Obama empowers me in his words and vision. But not only does it make me “feel good” It make me want to get out and “DO” things. I’ve never felt this way before about American politics. If it happens to be a black man, white woman, or whoever that makes me feel this…than sobeit.

  18. bill

    Criminals still occupy the White House.The presidential race doesn’t matter.
    You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last.
    But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast.
    Yonder stands your orphan with his gun,
    Crying like a fire in the sun.
    Look out the saints are comin’ through
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

  19. Lee Muller

    If race doesn’t matter, why is Obama running a racial campaign, promising an impossible list of handouts to blacks, to be paid for by heavier taxes on the mostly-white upper middle-income taxpayers?
    Why are all his speeches filled with recycled phrases from speeches other black politicians like Martin L. King and Malcolm X, which are code word for “taking it from whitey”?

  20. Karen McLeod

    Paying homage to ML=”taking it from whitey”?? I haven’t heard a whole lot about Malcolm X in his speeches. And he doesn’t promise special things to blacks only; he offers opportunities for all. What ‘goodies’ are you talking about? Health care? We already have the most expensive possible, least effective health care; we send those who don’t have health care to the ER, which provides critical treatment only, and drives up the price of our health care plans to pay for it. If you’re going to get upset about him suggesting that we negotiate with big Pharma for lower prices, well the rest of the world has already done that and they have cheaper prices. Do you think only black people are poor? You obviously have lived only in SC. There are plenty of white poor throughout this land. Why don’t you go back and actually read what this man has said and/or written? And read it without racist colored glasses.

  21. Walt Hampton

    “Race doesn’t matter?” I thought the official line of the controlled media was “race doesn’t exist.”

  22. Lee Muller

    The only “opportunities” offered by Obama are more handouts to the Democrat base. Free medical care to the irresponsible masses, paid for with lower grade care and higher taxes on responsible taxpayers.
    The government already negotiates prices with individual pharmceutical companies. What Hillary and Obama propose is:
    * DICTATING prices to drug companies
    * WAGE controls on nurses
    * PRICE controls on physicians
    * PRICE SETTING on medical tests and services
    * RATIONING of tests and treatments by bureaucrats.
    That is not my guess. That is what they have said, piecemeal, to their greedy supporters.

  23. Lee Muller

    Hillary’s current plan
    The details:
    Her 1,342-page Health Security Act designed by the First Lady and her
    secret 500-member White House task force in 1993, and her comments to
    reporters and in speeches in 2007. Hillary’s project manager was Ira Magaziner, a communist.
    At the center of Sen. Clinton’s plan is a REQUIREMENT that every American get and keep a health insurance policy.
    —– SPENDING and TAXES ———————–
    Hillary and Obama propose increasing medical spending from 16% of GDP to 20%.
    Other industrialized nations spend 11%.
    $5,000 cash for every new baby born to “lower income” parents.
    —– ILLEGALS ———————-
    Hillary is co-sponsor of two key bills: The SOLVE Act and the DREAM Act. These two acronyms describe legislation which would give every illegal immigrant, and their children, legal status if they have lived in the United States for five years.
    To earn this amnesty, they will not be required to learn English, have a job, stay arrest-free, pay taxes, or anything else – just don’t get caught. Then they get:
    * Free tuition to state colleges
    * Free health care
    —- EMPLOYER MANDATES ——————-
    Clinton’s plan maintains the failed employer-based insurance system by mandating that large employers continue to buy health insurance for their workers.
    As Harvard business school professor Regina Herzlinger notes, such a mandate is indistinguishable from a payroll tax. Currently, the big companies that don’t offer health insurance to their employees tend to be retailers and banks. Herzlinger points out that if they are required to pay
    an additional $5,000 for health insurance for a clerk earning $22,000, the companies will immediately start substituting capital for labor. In other words, economically vulnerable clerks would be fired and replaced by automated systems or by offshore workers. Instead of just lacking
    health insurance they would now be out of a job.
    —- CAPTIVE CARE —————–
    Doctors and nurses would have their incomes capped. Most would have to work for the government – MANAGED CARE run by federa bureaucrats.
    $5,000 fine for refusing to join the government mandated health plan;
    $5,000 fine for failing to pay premiums on time;
    15 years in prison for doctors who received ‘anything of value’ in exchange for helping patients short circuit bureaucracy;
    $10,000 a day for faulty physician paperwork;
    $50,000 for unauthorized patient treatment.
    When told the plan could bankrupt small businesses, Mrs. Clinton said, ‘I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized
    small business in America’.”
    Clinton says that the $110 billion needed to pay for her plan would come from raising taxes on people with incomes over $250,000 and from $56 billion in costs savings. “Claiming that she can save $56 billion through the marvelous efficiency of the U.S. government is just absurd,” retorts Herzlinger.
    Her newest book, Who Killed Health Care?, published in June of 2007, is on the CEO Best Seller List.
    Another plank in Hillary’s health insurance plan is that she would mandate “fair prices” for pharmaceuticals.
    —– RATIONING CARE ———————
    Hillary gives the example of “negotiating like the VA does”.
    The VA keeps drug costs down by imposing PRICE CONTROLS. Companies must sell their medicines to the VA at a price that is at least 24 percent below their average selling price and it goes down from there. If they don’t, they can’t sell to Medicare or Medicaid. Further, the VA imposes an
    automatic one-year hold on most new medicines while it “studies” its effects. For many important medicines such as Gleevec for stomach cancer or drugs for mental illness, patients must “fail
    first” on a cheaper drug before they get a breakthrough drug.
    When you “fail first” on the El Cheapo government treatment for cancer, you die.
    —– NO RESEARCH ———————–
    Just like socialist medicine in Europe.
    Price controls = lower revenue = less research.
    Since the 1994 Clinton plan was shot down, biotech has grown from $45 BILLION
    to $400 BILLION. There are 1,415 biotech companies across America today. Collectively, they have created more than 200 new therapies and vaccines, targeting everything from cancer and diabetes to
    HIV and AIDS. They also have 400 drugs in clinical trials, treating more than 200 diseases. And in 2005 alone, biotech companies signed 564 new agreements with the pharmaceutical industry.
    Hillary would have killed off all those new cures.
    The government would compete with insurance companies by selling tax-subsidized policies to lower-income people who, for some reason, don’t want all Hillary’s free programs.
    (see her website )
    Medical have been right in line with the Consumer Price Index,except for federal meddling. See this graph, 1936 to 2001.
    —- NO TORT REFORM ——————
    In 1994, Hillary rejected any controls on malpractice lawsuits.
    In 2008, Hillary again opposes tort reform.
    The average physician’s net income declined 7 percent from 1995 to 2003, after adjusting for inflation, while incomes of lawyers and other professionals rose by 7 percent during the period, according to a new report from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

  24. Lee Muller

    I posted details for Hillary and Obama’s socialist plans. Brad’s may delete one or both of them due to length and reference links to other newspapers and medical schools.
    But all socialist medical care relies on price controls, wage and salary caps for health care workers, and rationing of care. Socialists in America have nothing different to offer.

  25. Lee Muller

    Well, I guess Brad won’t permit these long posts with references, so Karen, pick out some plank of Hillary’s socalized medicine that you want explained.

  26. Lee Muller

    The details:
    Her 1,342-page Health Security Act designed by the First Lady and her
    secret 500-member White House task force in 1993, and her comments to
    reporters and in speeches in 2007. Hillary’s project manager was Ira Magaziner,
    At the center of Sen. Clinton’s plan is a REQUIREMENT that every American get and keep a health insurance policy.
    —– SPENDING and TAXES ——————–
    Hillary and Obama propose increasing medical spending from 16% of GDP to 20%.
    Other industrialized nations spend 11%.
    $5,000 cash for every new baby born to “lower income” parents.
    Free medical care to illegal aliens and amnesty citizenship if they can evade the police for 5 years.
    …. more coming

  27. bub

    7 tribes at a racial level
    oriental 61 out of 100 will die
    deshi 81 out of 100 will die
    african 73 out of 100 will die
    european 91 out of 100 will die
    arabic 97 out of 100 will die
    adiwahsi 93 out of 100 will die
    other 77 out of 100 will die

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