Following the election last week I contacted William McKee Evans, author of the forthcoming book Open Wound: The Long View of Race in America, to ask how Obama’s victory impacts the thesis of his book. Dr. Evans replied:
“The election of Obama is a momentous event that history may remember as the fulfillment of Jefferson’s declaration that ‘all men are created equal’ and Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech at the massive civil rights rally on the Washington Mall.
But the racial wound is still open. The civil rights movement left too many African Americans still trapped in the bottom stratum of society, and now, with the new economic crisis, their prospects of escape are far more dismal.
And those who escaped the bottom stratum? The racial system has an altered but still considerable authority over their lives. For example, they have paychecks, but likely have little wealth compared to that of whites. Their homes for which they had to pay a racial premium are disproportionately caught in the housing crisis. Their down-side list of such systemic vulnerabilities is long, and this despite the post-civil-rights myths of the color blind society with a level playing field. With the Obama election, perhaps will be added ‘we have put race behind us.’ Don’t count on it.”