Dan Chiras  @  ChelseaGreen

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Racial Transparency: The First African-American President and More

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009 at 1:21 pm by Dan Chiras

Immediately after Barack Obama's innaugaration, I tuned into Black Entertainment Televsion, thinking that it would be interesting to see what the African-American community had to say about the election of our first African-American president.

I was deeply moved by the impact this had on the African-American community. I deeply appreciate the symbolic and very real significance of this accomplishment, too.

After a while, I flipped to the conventional news coverage. It was, to say the least, remarkably different. There I listened to discussions of the Obama kids' clothes, the music, and the fumbled oath.

Of course, there were comments about the historic significance of electing an African-American, a community that has suffered deeply since their forced conscription to provide free labor for America's plantations and farms. Slavery was a shameful epoc in American history. The maltreatment of African-Americans that continues today is reprehensible as well.

As I listened to the news coverage, though, it struck me that I didn't vote for Barack Obama because he was African-American.

I wasn't voting for the symbolic or the very real significance of this opportunity, although it was important to me.

I voted for this dignified man with an unpresidential name because he was a bright, forward-thinking, articulate and diplomatic person who showed great promise as a leader.

Race didn't matter to me, even though race – racial justice, to be more exact — matters very deeply to me.

Others I've spoken to have expressed a similar sentiment. Race didn't matter to them, either, even though ending racial injustice is one of their top priorities.

We're proud to have an African-American president and truly grasp the significance of this election. The  fact that we didn't look at Obama as an African-American, but a promising leader, signifies the great progress we've made. We see a man or a woman for what they are.

To many who believe deeply in treating all Americans fairly, regardless of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, racial transparency is a good sign.

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