Congratulations to Barack Obama for finally clinching the Democratic primary. Let the fun of the general election cycle begin!! I’m sure this fall’s Olympics will provide a needed respite from the political talk.

Throughout the primary season it has been interesting to watch Obama electrify crowds and become the first black presidential candidate. Throughout the last six months I’ve had conversations with a variety of people, from a spectrum of backgrounds about Obama and the primaries in general.

Often in these conversations someone would say something about the fact that Obama’s candidacy shows that we have overcome racism and all the hard work of the civil rights movement is finally over. I would sadly inform them that while the vast majority of America has moved beyond overt racism there are still large pockets of downright hostility towards black individuals.

Until moving to Minneapolis I would say that much of my life has been spent in places where racism is fairly common, except for my year in New Jersey. (I would broadly define places as counties or areas, not specific towns) I was raised to see all people as equal but there were pockets around my county where racism was still prevalent. My time in central Indiana was surrounded by racism, even in my generation and those younger than me. It is a different type of racism, though.

I think sadly all of this is highlighted in a series of attacks against Obama staffers and offices throughout Indiana. Now maybe these types of attacks happened throughout the country and my ear (or eye) was peeked because of the mention of Indiana, but who knows. The Obama campaign I think rightly tried to downplay the incidents to prevent a national media storm, but we can’t deny the reality – racism still exists in this country. I would say that it still occurs both covertly and overtly.

I’ll let you read the Washington Post article yourself, but I spent several years working in Muncie and a total of 7 years living and interacting with the broader East-Central Indiana area. Nothing in the article really surprised me – which is sad.

But in historical retrospect it isn’t surprising since in 1924 a KKK member was elected governor of Indiana and the midwest actually had a larger KKK presence than the South. Indeed Marion, IN is home to the last known lynching in America and resides between Muncie and Kokomo – both mentioned in the WP article. Kokomo also hosted the largest ever rally of the KKK.

What do you think about the current state of racism?

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