Would you elect a black man or white woman?

I’ve always been a bookworm and so around the age of 11 or 12 I asked all my male and female friends whether they would vote for a black man or a white woman for president.  Everyone, male and female alike would always say black man.  I was surprised that the ladies didn’t stick up for one of their own.  I was so surprised, that I would ask my friends this question every couple of years.  We moved a little and I also changed who I hung out with so I wasn’t always asking the same people.  Yet, even though high school and college a majority would say they would rather go for a black man. 

When I would ask the women what was wrong with having a woman president, they would think for a bit and answer something like, “I just can’t see a woman as president,” or “I wouldn’t trust a woman president.”  It was rather a strange thing to hear.

Now, strangely, we find ourselves in the position that either one of those two will be selected as the Democratic nominee.  Right now they’re roughly neck and neck.  So I wonder if perhaps something about the people I always chose to hang around with biased them against liking a woman president or if it’s different just because now it’s real and not just a lunch-time hypothetical. 

I think the final result tells us a lot about what’s stronger in our country – racism or sexism.  After all, I’ve actually heard people call into NPR shows saying they won’t vote for Obama simply because he’s black.  That’s the kind of stuff I thought we were way over from in this country.  But no, we find ourselves still dealing with this as a nation.  On other shows I’ve heard people express all kinds of feelings about having a woman president which we’re supposed to also be over as a country.

Then it’s off the the national elections, but there I see it as much less about the race or gender of the person than the party the voters prefer.  I doubt more than a vocal minority will vote for the other party (or not vote, which is equivalent to voting for the other party) just because the Democrat is black or a woman.  Most people who will vote for McCain will be doing it because they like Republicans, not as a rejection of a race or sex they don’t like.

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Author: Eric Mesa

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