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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Racism in the race

A refrain I heard far too many times on Friday -- the day after Barack Obama pulled the upset victory in the Iowa Democratic caucuses -- was that America still isn’t ready to elect a black president.

For heaven’s sake, have we made no progress in the 45 years since the civil rights movement? Do we really still live in a time when – to paraphrase Dr. King – people will judge a man by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character?

I’m not blind to the world around me. I know racism still exists in this country. This is, after all, the era of Don Imus and the Jena Six, and we’re not very far removed from the Rodney King beating, the Mark Fuhrman tapes and Amadou Diallo killing. But I’d like to think, however naïve it may sound, that a man who was deemed sufficiently qualified to give the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, get elected to the United States Senate and win the Democratic presidential caucuses in bellwether Iowa could get elected to the highest office in the land no matter what he looks like.

None of this is say I’m an Obama supporter. In truth, I’ve yet to decide who I favor for the presidency. But when I do make that decision, it will be based solely on my belief in the candidate’s ability to do the job -- in other words, what’s on the inside, not the outside.



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