In her interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” music icon Beyoncé briefly touched on race issues and its meaning in the modern Obama era. While the singer conceded she indeed encountered “a bit” of racism growing up, she hailed that her career ushered her into a post-race perspective.
“I feel like now, at least with my career, I’ve kind of broken barriers and I don’t think people think about my race,” Beyoncé said.
“I think they look at me as an entertainer and musician. That’s how I look at people…it’s not about color and race and I’m happy that’s changing.”
Beyoncé, like many other modern Americans, may be on to something. As beaten down as the argument may be, President Obama’s election encapsulated where America stands in terms of race.
Racism is certainly no where near where it was 45 years ago. But can a post-racial society ever exist? America’s ever-changing history suggests so.
With the rising Black middle class, the election of a Black president and a plethora of Black “firsts,” the argument that race no longer matters as much holds legitimate weight. African-Americans, at least those far-removed from the post-slavery, Jim Crow age, do not approach race in the manner that was once cringing and defensive.
Today more than ever Blacks, let’s say in their twenties, do not have much reason to navigate life along the color line. Many young, middle class African-Americans, like myself, have generally lived a life uninhabited of racial prejudice — with the exception of sporadic smears found in politics.
According to a poll conducted by Gallup, 77 percent of Americans approved of Black-White marriages. Similar data was used by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson in his book “Disintegration” to theorize that America is slowly, but surely entering an age of race acceptance.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the reality that racism is still prevalent in this country. In fact, Gallup showed, in 2008, that 78 percent of Blacks felt racism was widespread. However, I speculate that data had a lot to do with the frequent racial attacks on Obama during that time. However, another study conducted by The Washington Post shows hope. According to the poll, 20 percent of Blacks believed racial equality was achieved, and another 36 percent believed it will soon be achieved.
From my personal experiences, I think race is gradually becoming something of the past. Black entertainers, athletes and professionals like Beyoncé have been able to transcend race, and enter spheres where their race doesn’t matter as much as their contribution to society does. The cadence of racism will not cease until we can engage the conversation honestly and earnestly. When we participate in racial discourse with oversensitive ills, we miss out on an opportunity to grow as a nation.
In essence, race matters far less. But just how far can its social acceptance take us? I’d say pretty far. How far, exactly, is up to us.