Race issue is more than just a Houma delimma

Though some believed that controversies about race in the U.S. would be eliminated after the election of the country’s first African-American president last year, they have not let up.

However, considering the significance of the change – only white men had occupied the office since the U.S. Constitution was signed and all of those except Kennedy, including President Obama, have been Protestants – the transition has been remarkably smooth.

Obama, during his campaign for the presidency, did not really touched on race in anything more than a routine way one time when he made a comment about the figures on U.S. currency not resembling him, and he was criticized heavily for even that innocent remark because some argued he had “played the race card.”

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright dustup was another occasion that had Obama discussing race directly during the presidential campaign, but Obama was forced to deal with the issue because the media exploited the anti-American comments of Wright, a former U.S. Marine, so relentlessly.

After his election, Obama committed a clear mistake when he entered the imbroglio between Prof. Henry Gates and the Cambridge Police, but the president quickly acknowledged the error, even staging a corny reconciliation meeting between the two antagonists.

Then came former President Jimmy Carter’s recent contention that much of the criticism leveled at Obama, particularly over greater federal involvement in the nation’s health-care system, is racially motivated.

Unquestionably, at least some of the criticism stems from the fact of Obama’s race, but Carter’s comment was unnecessarily inflammatory and, worse, not provable. Former President Clinton was correct when he called Carter on his remark, though Carter, it needs to be stated, has admirably addressed issues of racial injustice throughout his public life.

All in all, the issue of Obama’s race has not been nonexistent, but notably low key, and often, dare it be said, lighthearted. “It’s important to realize,” the president said last week, “that I was actually black before the election.”