Half a century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dared to imagine what few others of his time would venture to consider; he dreamt of a society in which one is judged not by the color of one’s skin, but by the content of his or her character. Has King’s dream manifested itself as reality? Because President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, can a man of color walk anywhere in this, the United States of America—the greatest nation on Earth—without the slightest consideration as to the pigment of his skin? Contrary to popular belief, one’s race was and still is a significant part of one’s lived experience, despite the election of Barack Obama. Analysis of elements of popular culture and society’s perspective substantiates this claim.
Forty-three men served as president of the United States of America prior to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Of those forty-three men, how many are addressed as the first of their race (Irish, German, English, etc.) to win the presidency? Yet, when society names the 44th president of the United States of America, perspectives change and the topic of race takes precedence. President Barack Obama is not merely another serving his country in the office of president; rather, he is a black man before the word president is even mention. While the fact that he is an African-American is significant, it should not characterize him more as president than it does as a person. Evidently, society still sees the color of the president’s skin, before noticing his title, his achievements, and even his failures.
Elements of popular culture share a similar myopic view. Music, being one the most defining aspects of a culture, contributes significantly to the development of a society, in which race is almost always a factor. Ironically enough, African-American artists can be blamed for the attention given to differences in race and even “racist” mentalities. For example, Hip-Hop artist, Young Jeezy in his song titled “My President”, tells about the triumph African-Americans have made with the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. The first line of the song: “My president is black”. What is that to say to the millions and millions of African-Americans that seek refuge in the words of Jeezy’s music? The song did not focus on the fact that Americans elected a competent man, but rather, a black man. Such music, so vast a fan base fed with little more than transient triumph on a racial level, discourages the growth and maturation of society; rather it encourages the ignorant and stereotypical views that have come to characterize a race.
With the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, headlines and talk shows were fraught with the excitement of an African-American being elected president of the United States. Yet, the headlines about a Harvard graduate and Civil Rights activist garnered significantly less emphasis. In addition, artists and musicians sought to proclaim the triumph of African-Americans as a people, and not America as a nation with Obama’s election. Evidently, the road to a race-blind society is a long one, littered with cultural distractions and unyielding racial perspectives.