Goldberg: America flips race switch to "off"

Now that we've elected a black man to the highest single position of political power in the country, can we finally say that we live in a post-racial America?

Many idealists say yes, that the election of Barack Obama signifies an end of racial tension and racism in the United States. I, however, have a problem with the idea that the election of one individual to one position of power in the country somehow signifies the end of hundreds of years of an historical narrative - that one man can heal centuries of strife.

The country certainly changed from Nov. 3, 2008 to Nov. 5, 2008, but racism and racial inequality still exist.

The election of Barack Obama did offer an example of actualized opportunity and affirmed that a black man could become president. But we have to remember that he is one man. He is quite a success story, but as remarkable as he may be, he is only one man.

There are still others who wake up every day and come face-to-face with the reality of having opportunities presented or denied to them simply because of their race. There are still millions of black Americans who find themselves living in a physical and socioeconomic space that was the fate of their ancestors after the abolishment of slavery.

Black Americans are still disproportionately represented in the lower socioeconomic classes of American society, in prison, in the poorer results of SAT scores, and so on. Two days - one election - doesn't change all of that.

Election Day was not the eraser of racism, antidote for all old wounds, and creator of racial equality but it did propel us one giant leap forward. The election of Obama's will usher us towards the promised land of racial reconciliation.

Will it all be over after four - or if he should earn the trust of the American people for a second term, even eight - more years? I don't believe so. But I do think that we will be closer to the day when black and white Americans start their lives at the same starting line, so when the gun goes off to begin the race for prosperity and affluence everyone runs the same course with the same obstacles and the same distance to cover.

That will be the indicator of a post-racial America. Just as Obama said that we can't measure our country's economic success by the wealth of those at the top, we can't look to the election of one man as the end of racial inequality. Instead, we must look at the opportunities being offered to the masses.

In many ways, issues of racial inequality are closely tied to issues of economic inequality, and because of that Obama's policies as well as his race will help move the country toward this post-racial status. Not only will he symbolically reconcile race relations, but he will also enact policies to ensure greater equality of economic opportunity for the middle and lower classes of American citizens, which will directly result in greater equality in opportunity among the races.

I'm not here to debate the intricacies of liberal versus conservative economic policies; I am, however, asserting that his liberal economic ideas will actively fight towards equal economic opportunity.

We're getting there - there is no question about that. Progress has been made. But it is important to not become blinded by the light of this historic election. We must see this as a means for achieving an end. We must not fool ourselves into believing we've crossed an imagined finish line - not now, not even after coming this far.

Jesse Goldberg is a freshman English major who knows the race switch is still very much on.