Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Racial Progress

Posted By on 02.06.07 at 05:27 PM

“We got more than a game here -- we got history,” said the voice-over in the second-quarter commercial. “Not just getting here, but what getting here represents.”

There was a time when milestones in civil rights weren’t so warmly welcomed, when landmark events that represented progress and justice to some Americans meant the crumbling of hallowed traditions to others, and dissenters in high places were sure to mutter, “Too much, too fast.” Frito-Lay’s celebration of the latest milestone, a Super Bowl with two black head coaches,  gives us reason to suspect -- with absolutely no disrespect intended for Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith -- that the big civil rights battles are behind us.

We’re definitely in another era. I just read Debra Dickerson’s essay for Salon on Barack Obama, who “isn’t black,” says Dickerson, because he’s not the descendant of African slaves. Dickerson apparently has in mind two categories of African-Americans, indistinguishable to some of us but not to others, or possibly to themselves -- sort of the way it was in Rwanda. I did some googling but I couldn’t pin down whether Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are descended from slaves. If they’re not—well, shame on Frito-Lay for botching its due diligence.

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