Obama's candidacy creates racial buzz

June 4, 2008 at 9:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- Sen. Barack Obama's likely nomination as the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate has created all sorts of buzz because of his ethnicity, observers say.

Obama, whose father was a black Kenyan economist and mother was a white Kansan, is living proof of how far the country has come, one scholar told The Washington Post.

"Black president. Is there still racism in this society? Of course there is. But it is not nearly the level of racism that would make the idea of the words 'black president' sound ridiculous," said Roger Wilkins, professor emeritus at George Mason University. "When I hear it, I think as someone who has taught history for the last 25 years; I think our country has come a long way."

But others, such as one-time vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro warns an Obama candidacy may drive away white voters who fear he won't understand them, the Post said. Ferraro, the first female running mate, was roundly criticized for comments she made about race and Obama's presidential bid.

"They're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white," Ferraro wrote in the Boston Globe's Sunday edition. "They don't believe he understands them and their problems."

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