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obama1Obama’s win has been hailed by many political commentators as the end of the “politics of grievance.” Their argument goes like “now that a black man has come to power, blacks can no longer blame the administration for not listening to their grievances.”

Just because a black is in power, doesn’t mean Afro-Americans are going to get a fair deal.

When A P J Abdul Kalam became the President of India, everyone welcomed a person from the scientific community entering the bureaucracy. Till date, he has been the most popular Indian President in power. But just because he was a Muslim, didn’t mean he in anyway represented the interests of the Indian Muslim.

Everyone knows about the atrocities committed against Muslims during the Gujarat riots. Everyone knows that it was state-sponsored genocide. World-wide human rights organisations, the UN and foreign countries condemned the violence against minorities, but what did Abdul Kalam do? He wasn’t going to antagonize the BJP Government, so he didn’t impose President’s rule in Gujarat or even kalam_veer_savarkarcondemn the violence. He toed the official BJP line and parroted the same things Advani & Vajpayee were saying. When Muslim groups approached him, he carefully avoided even sympathizing with his own community.

Kalam also unveiled the potrait of Hindu ‘mahasabha’ leader Veer Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament, after the entire Opposition boycotted the function. Veer Savarkar was the brains behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and one of the accused in the case.

Hanging the portrait of the assassin (Veer Savarkar) in the same hall as the assassinated (Gandhi) is an insult to secularism. And Kalam ought to be ashamed of the part he played in it.

My point is just because Abdul Kalam was a Muslim, doesn’t mean he did anything for the welfare of Muslims. The same goes for Pratibha Patil; just because she’s the first woman Indian President, doesn’t mean the 5.6 billion women in India have been emancipated.

The same logic applies to Obama, his win doesn’t mean words like – race transcendence, race neutral, post-racial — hold true.

I don’t buy the argument that Obama’s election proves Americans are living in a post-racial America. Racism still exists. And its not just blacks, America discriminates against other races too; it calls them browns (Indians), Chinkies, Hispanics, Latinos, Jews, Poles, etc.

There are also other questions that rise: Will Obama take a pro-active stance for black rights or leave it to NAACP?

Will Obama be held less or more accountable for issues that affect the black community?

Will Obama’s every appointment of a non-white person be debated at length? Will Obama’s every welfare or non-welfare move be criticized in the light of his skin colour?

Will his election, put advocacy for racial equality on the back burner in the mainstream media?

obama2What will happen when riots in black ghettos break out? How will his administration be criticized? (Though no white President was criticized for the Ku Klux Klan, you can be sure violence by or against blacks will be taken as reflection of Obama’s administration).

Apart from the legitimate questions, there are questions from another realm like: Is Obama black? Is Obama black enough? Is Obama American enough? How can Obama talks about black rights, when none of his ancestors were tortured, beaten up by slave owners, the Ku Klux Klan, white policemen or the state militia? What can Obama know of black poverty in America?

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