President Barack Obama is rounding out a week dedicate to courting young voters by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone this week in an issue that hits newsstands on Friday. In the issue, the President talks about the long fight that he has ahead of him in the 2012 election, criticizes his opponenet Mitt Romney for being inconsistent on the issues, and reveals his thoughts on the role that race plays in his candidacy and in America. An excerpt:
When I travel around the country, a lot of people remark on how inspiring seeing an African-American president or an African-American first lady must be to black boys and girls, how it must raise their sense of what’s possible in their own lives. That’s hugely important – but you shouldn’t also underestimate the fact that there are a whole bunch of little white girls and white boys all across the country who just take it for granted that there’s an African-American president. That’s the president they’re growing up with, and that’s changing attitudes.
My view on race has always been that it’s complicated. It’s not just a matter of head – it’s a matter of heart. It’s about interactions. What happens in the workplace, in schools, on sports fields, and through music and culture shapes racial attitudes as much as any legislation that’s passed. I do believe that we’re making slow and steady progress. When I talk to Malia and Sasha, the world they’re growing up with, with their friends, is just very different from the world that you and I grew up with.
Obama added that “race has been one of the fault lines in American culture and American politics from the start. I never bought into the notion that by electing me, somehow we were entering into a post-racial period.”
Obama has been in the hotseat about race since his early days as a candidate, and it’s hard not to notice that he has always been, even if by force, rather quiet on race issues. We’ve watched him handle attacks against his character and veracity (such as the still-raging birth certificate fiasco) that have been blatantly racial without ever calling out the issues that his blackness presents. To me, this interview sounds like a slightly more open Obama, who in his second term has settled into the reality that continuing to downplay the race issue is entirely unavoidable.