I first discovered this when, here is Europe, I was thrown into the company of Cubans and Venezuelans of color and later with African exchange students. No history separated us, there was no tension at all on either side, we hung out together in the most natural way... Even in England, the relationship with students of the British Caribbean, was fluid. African-Americans have told me they experienced the same thing. For all of us it was an inexpressible relief.
I believe that Barack Obama illustrates perfectly my idea that race relations in the USA are cultural and that color is only a uniform that normally goes with the culture.
Obama is culturally "white". He was raised in Hawaii by white grandparents and went to private schools where the significant non-white population is Asiatic and that not only didn't Hawaii ever have any history of African slavery, it wasn't even a part of the United States at the time of the Civil War. He also lived in Indonesia, where he would have been treated as an American expatriate... an object of mild curiosity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Muslim Indonesia attaches any particular stigma to African ancestry.
In short, to paraphrase Reverend Wright, I doubt if any white person ever called Barack Obama "nigger" in his whole life. It seems to me that the Obama took the personal decision to become part of African-American culture, in the same way he could have gone to an ashram in India and become a yogin. Attending such a radically black nationalist church as Wright's was Obama's way of joining the new culture... Now he has been caught by it.
I think Barack Obama is an immensely talented politician, but for him to really become anything great, I think it is essential for him to first fail miserably at something important.In my opinion this campaign if the first real event in his whole life. If he fails now at this imposture, he may come out of this trial by fire burned a shade darker and a much more interesting and important figure in American life.
More than President at this point I see him as the natural successor to Ted Kennedy. To be President he needs more time in the oven. Paradoxically what Obama is going through now is making him into a culturally genuine African-American. That is when his real story finally begins. DS