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Bob Ostertag Headshot

The Disappearing Black Woman

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Among the many obstacles Barack Obama must confront in his quest to be president, surely none is larger than the fact that he represents an ethnic group which has the remarkable distinction of being entirely male.

As the New York Times reported on March 13, "In the primaries and caucuses this winter, too, Mrs. Clinton has enjoyed substantial support from women, while Mr. Obama has increasingly drawn overwhelming votes from blacks." Two days before, AP similarly noted that "by the millions, black voters voted for the black candidate and women voted for the woman." There are many more such stories.

If there were any black women in the U.S., of course, these statements would be nonsense, and the media would be reporting that the women's vote has in fact been split, with white women voting for Clinton and black women for Obama, and women of other races scattered along the spectrum. This would complicate the electoral picture immensely. Instead of having the neat lines of identity politics with which we are now presented, we would have to come to terms with a messy world in which each American has multiple identities which pull in different directions and the sum total of which defies easy labeling. Election coverage would be much more difficult, requiring more thought on the part of both journalists and the public. So we can all thank goodness there are no black women.

By the way, anyone know who this "Michelle" is Obama keeps referring to?