That I'm a moderately-old fan of Barack Obama is old news
. That I find fuel in literate, elegant speech is old news
. So it shouldn't be any great surprise that I've carried a sense through this primary season that we're experiencing a turning point in history. I suppose that's obvious, too, given the "black man/white woman frontrunners" situation. But it goes further than that. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, that's historic. If he wins the Presidency in November, it will be an irrevocable change in the state and environment of black people in America.
Look at this week's events. Jeremiah Wright gets up in front of a crowd
and displays damned near every stereotype we know of the angry black community leader
. (The US government is behind AIDS? Please...) He's no neophyte, he knows exactly what it's doing, and you can't question that his intent is to attack Obama for not standing tall for him. His prior objectionable comments were not made in this context, there was some room for debate as to why he made them. (Was he making a point? Trying to fire up a crowd?) These were not. These were prepared and measured. This was all the justification needed for Obama to cut Wright loose
. Then he calls for calm and peace
in the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict in New York. That
drew Al Sharpton into the fray
. Obama is not playing the same old game many black politicians have played for years. He is not playing their game of victimhood--indeed, he rejects it. There's a poster over on TPM Cafe that sees it
. Andrew Sullivan sees it too
. Even Rush Limbaugh
What it means, for a black candidate to occupy the highest elected office in the land, is that the (white) Man didn't succeed in keeping him down. The game of paranoid racial victimization will be an empty shell, and those who cling to it will be left behind as the rest of the nation moves on. Not that all ills will be cured overnight. But the game and its rules will have changed. That's very much the kind of world I'd like to live in. And soon.