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February 14th, 2008
01:25 PM ET

Let's get beyond "transcending race" in politics

If I hear one more commentator say that Barack Obama "transcends race," I may do violence to my TV.

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Isn't the only implication of this statement that being African-American is a lowly status, which must be overcome?  Isn't that why we never hear of white candidates transcending their race - because no one sees anything for Clinton or McCain to rise above?
 
"Transcend," according to Merriam Webster, means "1 a: to rise above or go beyond the limits of b: to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of: overcome."

There's only one possible interpretation when someone says Obama transcends race:  that being African-American is a limiting, restrictive, negative state of being that he must break out of to have any shot at success.  It's like calling African-Americans "articulate" - the back-handed compliment that implies that it's such a surprise when they can form sentences!

As my biracial teenagers point out to me, Obama's little-discussed biracial status may explain why he seems equally comfortable with both blacks and whites.  Those who grow up with family of two or more races are uniquely positioned to truly connect with people of different colors, without squeamishness or stereotypes.  Obama's approach to others is not based on the color of their skin; isn't it time for pundits' approach to him to transcend racial bias?

- Lisa Bloom, “In Session” Anchor/360° Contributor

Read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session”

Program note:  “Uncovering America: Race, Gender and Politics” airs Friday on 360° at 10p ET


Filed under: Lisa Bloom • Race Gender & Politics
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