By Charlotte Pudlowski
“White America’s guilty conscience” : this is the title of an excellent article published last Sunday in a French paper that comes out every Sunday: Le Journal du dimanche. The author, Antoine Malo, spent some time in Saint-Louis, Missouri, to end up with a colorful intelligent report on how a country that was living in segregation less than half a century ago may be ready to elect a Black president.
”Mary remembers it as if it was yesterday. She remembers everything: Bismarck, her small town in South Missouri; her friends at school, all Whites, just like her, and those Blacks she used to see working along the railroad. When the night would come, she would watch them step quickly up the train that was leaving Bismarck. They were not allowed to spend the night in town. She also remembers the first time she talked to a Black person. He was an elevator operator in Saint-Louis. She was eighteen years old. (…)
“Mary is a hard-core Republican. (…) She doesn’t like Obama too much. (…) But what about the color of his skin? “I don’t mind” she assures. “Whether our President is White, Black or Yellow doesn’t matter. In my Church, there is plenty of Black people whom I get along with very well.” Would have Mary done tabula rasa? Most Republicans, in the very conservative state of Missouri, where segregation at school has been cancelled only in 1954, talk likewise. Obama’s race doesn’t count and the White America is ready to see a Black man in Washington. Is this a lie? Does skin color remain the ultimate taboo, or has America really entered a new post-racial era? “Most Republicans are not racist at all”, contends Dave Robertson, a political scientist in Saint-Louis University, who moderates right away “Anyway, Americans shall never dare saying openly that barrack Obama’s origins disturb them”.
“And yet. In a recent poll, 20% of Missouri inhabitants– where Obama has skyrocketed in the polls- considered that United States were not ready “to elect an Afro-American as president”. In Missouri, as in the rest of the country, all along the electoral campaign, the racial issue has come back regularly. Of course, Republicans have never directly evoked their rival skin color. But it has been hammered during meetings that his middle name, Hussein, was not very Christian. There have also been suspicions concerning his wife patriotism, Michelle. (…) Read More