Post-racialism or Targeted Universalism?

Powell, John A.
Denver Law Review

The United States made history on November 4, 2008 by electing Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States. This remarkable event has generated a sense of pride and a collective celebration that is shared worldwide. The installation of a Black President, whose election was supported by a significant minority of white American voters, is an occasion imbued with meaning. The political, social, historical, and cultural significance of the election has been expressed in many ways and interpreted differently in different quarters. Over the next several months, if not years, Americans will be trying to determine its contours, synthesizing its various strands. As we engage this consequential process, different segments of society will undoubtedly continue to express and promote different meanings, each of which will have important ramifications. Questions will emerge, such as how are we to understand racial conditions in society, and what is the proper role of public policy and law for addressing or avoiding racial questions? These questions about where we are as a society on the issue of race are not just factual or descriptive, but are deeply political, having implications for how and when we respond to existing racial conditions and the scope of our collective obligations.