When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008, it opened up a new dialogue on race in this country. Suddenly, something had happened that many thought was impossible. An African-American had been elected to the highest office in the country. Many Americans felt a sense of pride in their country on the day Obama took the oath of office. There was even talk of a new post-racial America. Now, only two and a half years later, those feelings seem foolish and utopian. Americans are now wondering if, instead of a step forward, the election was actually a step backwards.
There is no doubt that President Obama has faced a racial backlash. He has even had to deal with that backlash from within his own party, as clearly shown during the DNC Rules Committee meeting in May, 2008. That backlash did not come as a surprise for those who had paid attention to racial tensions in this country, although the ferocity of that backlash has shocked just about everyone.
The 2008 Democratic Party campaign was historic in that the two front-runners were a woman and an African-American male. Both candidacies inspired passionate supporters. A rift developed between the two camps. That rift was never fully healed and has led to strident opposition to the winner that is rarely seen within a victorious party. That opposition continues to play out in the online world of political blogging. Subtle and not so subtle racism and sexism finds its way into online discussions. When added to the overt racism from the right, this in-party opposition creates a toxic environment for any discussion about race in America.