The election of the first black president of the United States of America four years ago does not seem to have succeeded in breaking the ancient and severe polarization between white and colored Americans. Only a few days are left before the presidential elections; will Americans put their trust again in Barack Obama again or will they close the chapter of the first African American president of the USA?
However, discussions in the media and between Americans is no longer limited today to this issue.
These are the days of hurricane Sandy and the candidate who succeeds in addressing Americans and in managing how they face this natural disaster will -- most likely -- win.
After four years, the story is no longer about the success of the first colored American with Islamic roots who became president; Indeed, many events have occurred and made the previously mentioned story relatively fade, especially since Obama had adopted a cautious policy in addressing the public opinion about racism issues.
The enthusiasm that emerged with Obama's victory stating that his arrival to power will ease the feelings of hatred and racist practices has diminished. Today, in the midst of political, media and aid concerns about the repercussions of Sandy, a new poll conducted by the Associated Press revealed dangerous statistics that the hatred toward African Americans and Hispanics has increased.
Once again, an event does not make history. What builds history, is a long-term practice that was probably launched by the election of Barack Obama, but its development was not easy. The rivalry between the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and the black Democrat Barack Obama, refers to this cultural impasse. Obama is afraid of the colored people’s bias to affect the white people’s majority against him; this is why he is very careful in his speeches and press conferences, where he does not approach the racism issue in America. As for Romney, he exaggerates while addressing “white people”: he has not resisted describing them as “white,” but also he describes them as the majority of the American cultural mosaic. Therefore, the leaked videos where he speaks against homosexuals, for example, are not surprising at all; they go along with many Republican candidates’ speeches that may sometimes be on purpose.
It is most likely for the difficult days experienced by the Americans due to this natural disaster, to be a decisive factor in their choice at the ballot box; that explains the extreme caution in the statements of the two candidates and last minute adjustments within their electoral plans.
The black people complain that white America constitutes culture, literature and film, while white people are afraid of the rise of African Americans in the social composition of the country. I am not saying that America is racist; it has elected a black president and might re-elect him again. I said that, referring to this horizontal split that went way beyond the racism and reached issues of culture and identity. This is a problem that was not resolved yet by America, despite the greatness of the country’s experience and success.
These are crucial elections that Americans will be witnessing. As for us, we will always be the historic passive spectators.
(Diana Moukalled is a columnist for Asharq al Awsat, where the article appeared Nov. 1, 2012.)