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Understanding race

In his piece "Obama and King James," (Nov. 3) Aaron Eisen speaks eloquently about a post-racial society and claims that no one his age talks of race when speaking of influential figures such as our president or LeBron James.

I am 22, which is not much older than most of University students with whom I volunteer, and I beg to differ. For a lot of white students at the University and elsewhere, many of whom have both race and class privilege, it is easy to speak about color blindness and a post-racial society. The reality of life in the United States for those without race privilege is far different.

In Charlottesville, as in many other places across the country, including my hometown, poverty is clearly unequally spread across lines of color. Bank managers, landlords and employers still find numerous excuses to avoid renting, hiring or lending to people of color. The wage gap - between women and men as well as between whites and people of color - is still going strong, all across America. Driving while black was not replaced with flying while brown (or traveling to Arizona while Latino); racial profiling has just diversified. Ignorance of and naivete regarding the extensive problems of racism may seem like the endearing hallmarks of a post-racial society, but in reality, ignoring the way racism has transformed and become more insidious only serves to perpetuate racism.

As - I would guess - in many mixed-race families, our family considered President Obama's election to be a blessing and a sign of progress. My nieces and cousins, for example, now know that someone who looks like them, someone who has a white mother and a black father, can rise high in this country - even though no one else they know who looks like them has even attended college. But that progress does not magically erase the considerable obstacles they - and all people of color - still face. To speak of a post-racial society is a slap in the face to the vital struggle for racial equality that is still being fought in the United States.

A'ishah Hils\nGSAS

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