Two steps forward, two steps back

Reactions to Obama re-election and marriage legislation prove we have a long way to go

On November 8, 2012

In 2012, there are still people protesting the re-election of a black president.

Media outlets reported on Tuesday night that students at Ole Miss held a protest of President Obama's re-election. Ole Miss has an infamous reputation as the setting of racial riots in 1962 after the school's first black student was enrolled. Two people were killed in the violent protests, forcing in the National Guard. Fifty years later, a crowd of about 400 students reportedly shouted "The South will rise again," while others shouted racial epithets as an Obama-Biden campaign sign was burned.

In other parts of the country, people of all ages used social media to express their outrage, with hits like "No n***** should lead this country!!!"

Welcome to post-racial America.

Race wasn't the only issue. Twitter was a hub for homophobic comments after Maine, Maryland and Washington all approved same-sex marriage. Tweets like "Shame on the states that legalized gay marriage today. Absolutely disgusting" graced the trending topics and news feeds as the referendums were passed.

Despite major gains on Tuesday night across the country, we still have so far to go.

The cynical approach is not necessarily the unjustifiable one in this case. History is being made, yet we're still seeing attitudes from years ago. Are we really making the strides we think we are?

Mindsets like this don't do justice to the technological advances we've made either. People have always been (and will clearly continue to be) angry and hateful, but with social media, they have the opportunity to be angry and hateful much faster. According to OpenSite, 2008 was supposedly the social media election with 1.8 million tweets. In 2012, there are that many tweets every six minutes, and Election Day brought in 31 million tweets total.

That's a lot more characters and opportunities to be angry and hateful.

The severity of the situation has been frequently contested. Racism and homophobia isn't some political talking point invented by Democrats to stick it to the Republicans; it's a real problem, one with representatives in every age group.

The people who were protesting were college students, and many of the people who tweeted were of college or high school age. This is our generation - the supposed progressive fighters for revolution and social change. It seems that many people still have their ideologies in a time lock. You can bet there would still be riots going on if Romney won, and there were enough tweets from Obama supporters on Election Night that were along the lines of  "f*** white people."

There are people still voting for Obama because he's black and voting against him because he's black. Why is this a thought process that still engulfs us and a conversation we're still having?

We're not in a standstill, though; our country is moving forward, and we've reached a point where any adult who disagrees with a prospective law or candidate has the opportunity to go and vote against that. If you really don't like it, for whatever reason, your job was to educate yourself and go vote and to tell other people to vote. And whether you like him or not, Obama won both the electoral vote and the popular vote. This was not a situation where the people wanted another candidate more. They spoke and requested President Obama for re-election.

There are enough people who will hide behind their racism or pretend it doesn't exist, but there are plenty who, for some reason, aren't ashamed. Comments and actions like these are just a constant reminder that the work is never done. No matter how far the country has progressed, we still keep taking two steps back.



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