As I woke this morning to the news that Barack Obama is to become the 44th President of the United States of America, I was pleased for him – he seems to have fought a cleaner and more positive campaign than his rival, and he seems to bring an element and hope to a nation that has lost its way and standing in the world under the existing administration.
However what perturbs me about the reporting of Mr Obama’s victory is the label the press seem determined to put on the President Elect as the ‘First African American President’ or the ‘First Black President’ if this had happened in the 1960’s this would have been a worthy way to report. But now in the 21st Century surely it is enough to say that Barack Obama has been elected president.
I know it is a milestone in a nation that is not nearly as sorted on race as other parts of the western world. I know that it is an important milestone for other African Americans, and I am genuinely pleased that Mr Obama’s racial heritage did not stop people voting for him.
But it seems to me that racial discrimination will only be a thing of the past when a black, or person of any ethnic heritage, can be voted into public office without people remarking on their skin colour.
Here in the UK we saw the same thing when Jackie Smith was made Home Secretary – ‘the first woman’ to hold the position. WHY? Her gender has nothing to do with her ability to do the job, and if feminism has achieved anything useful, it should be that a women achieving a particular office goes un-noticed or mentioned.
So lets look forward to the day when all people are just people, no matter what skin colour or gender they happen to be. That is when discrimination will be dead.