Does Race Trump Gender?

Suzanne Pharr February 18th, 2008

No. Hope and inspiration do.

As soon as it was clear that Obama had won an overwhelming victory in the South Carolina primary, news commentators put up their pie-chart evidence and declared, “Race trumps gender!” Surely no one was surprised at the spin. Since the Civil Rights Movement, media pundits and political strategists have pitted white women, black men, and white men against each other to increase resentment and division. Now, imagine this: a white woman, a black man, and a white man are competing as Democrats to be the next President.

There are differences in their political platforms but they are not large. What is notably different—and is affecting the vote—is who they are as human beings, what central core within themselves they speak from, and how they touch our hopes and dreams. These are the elements that are not based on race or gender or age or class or any of the other issues that define us. After we see the candidates are close in intelligence and the ability to get things done, what then stands out is something that lives in the realm of spirit. It is hope expressed in faithfulness to the dream of a whole and united people and a desire for a transformed world. This realm has no race or gender.

It is critical at this historical moment to bring about change in the collective spirit of this country. A friend of mine recently mentioned “creeping fascism.” “Creeping?” I asked. “I think it has been on a pretty fast shuffle for the past decade.” One of the few things that can deter it is a people’s hope and belief in their collective power to make change. Divisiveness based on carefully calculated political messaging and strategies has endangered who we are as a people. Thankfully, this election is proving—especially through the great energy of young people, of the formerly disheartened, and of those whose voices are not often heard—that people do not want the negative ways of the past. We want a President who will work with us to bring forward our best selves, creating policy and practice that will improve the lives of all of us, in the US and the world.

That’s why this white Southern woman who longs for a transformed world is voting for Obama.

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