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Questions That People Of Color Never Ask

February 2, 2013

I’m pretty sure this is going to end up being an ongoing series.

Today’s question has, for some reason, been flying across both Facebook and my twitter feed.

What happened to the post racial America Obama promised us?

I don’t know. Who promised you that? Can I have some?

Look, this is another thing we’ve got the relegate to the Bullshit Graveyard.




What does “post-racial” even mean? It means that somehow, through a means that no one can rationally explain, the nation is suddenly is devoid of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice.  Privilege powers activate! Form of, color blind racism.

The situations in which one hears that question is instructive of the kind of person who is asking it. You’ll never hear a PoC ask it. We were all aware that the election of a man with brown skin was going to absolutely zero things to magically end racism in America. Because, President Obama graduated from Harvard and not, you know, Hogwarts or something.  He’s a statesman, not a fucking wizard.

This is another one of those fictional urban legendy stories that will never die. It’s fictional. Post-racial America is like Oz. It sounds like it could be a lovely place but there’s no way to get there because it’s fucking fictional.


Obama wizard


You know what else is instructive? When the reference is made. Generally, it’s an attempt to avoid responsibility. The conversation goes like this.

Person A: “Something racist.”

Person B: “What you said was racist.”

Person A: “OMG what happened to this post racial America Obama promised us?!”

Hey look a red herring! That’s what happens when someone is so desperate to draw your attention away from the shitty thing they said to…something else that never happened. Because yeah, Obama never promised anyone a post racial anything. In fact he promised the opposite. He made clear that there was a huge amount of work necessary from all races in order to improve society.

But what we see is the consistent insistence that it is the responsibility of PoC, you know, those of us who are most wounded by racism, to put a stop to racism. That totally makes sense, in the same way that when someone is beating you, it’s your responsibility to convince them that the beating isn’t happening and not at all their responsibility to not fucking punch you. Oh, wait, no. That’s actually crazy.

The responsibility of ending an -ism, no matter which one it is, falls on the people in power. If the people suffering under the -ism had that power, they wouldn’t be suffering in that way. Duh.

And yet, we seem eventually to return, again and again, to this same, question. “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY POST-RACIAL AMERICA?! Why are you trying to prevent me from exercising my privilege? Why are you trying to make me take responsibility?”

Because we still live in the actual world, buddy and the things you say still matter.

But I have a solution for all the people who keep asking that question. I have the key to the magical land of post-racial American! I do! Are you ready?You’re going to want to really meditate on this and let it sink in. Ready?

If you want a post-racial world, be less racist.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 3, 2013 2:39 PM

    this makes my brain kinda explodey for many reasons, but the biggest one is the whole post-racial america thing? that’s something that racists popped up with once obama was elected (well, and it’s been a thing since before that too). it’s a way to dismiss the realities of racism: “we have a black president, we’ve moved past racism, therefore this other shitty thing isn’t due to racism”.

    now they’re turning what *they* said about the significance of his presidency into something HE said? ARGH.

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