I write: "Mom made me feel like I could spit lightening and make bullets bounce off my chest. She sat me down on the front porch when I was about 6 years old. She had an illustrated book of all the presidents from George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower. We talked about their achievements and disappointments.
"'Larry,' she said, tapping the book, 'if you work hard enough and want it bad enough, someday you can be in this book.'"
My parents told us that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. In high school, we read a sad, bitter poem about racism in a black literature course:
"While riding through old Baltimore, so small and full of glee,
"I saw a young Baltimorean keep a-lookin' straight at me.
"Now, he was young and very small, and I was not much bigger
"And so I smiled, but he put out his tongue and called me 'nigger.'
"I saw the whole of Baltimore from May until September,
"Of all the things that happened there, that's all that I remember."
The teacher angrily talked about the permanent damage done to this little boy's psyche. The permanent stain of racism. The assault on the little boy's dignity. The boy, said the teacher, will never be the same. By the time the bell sounded, everyone was angry.
When I got home, I read the poem to my mother. She was in the kitchen, cooking a pot of greens. When I finished the last line, she turned, big spoon in hand, and looked me in the eye.
"Too bad," she said, "that boy let something so trivial spoil his vacation."
If Obama loses, how many parents will tell their children that his race did him in? Already, The Associated Press published a poll supposedly showing that the negative "racial attitudes" people hold against blacks could likely cost Obama 2 points in the election.
Not only does Obama benefit from a near-unanimous black vote, but also from the many whites who voted for Obama because of his race. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, explained in 2008: "This is (their) chance to demonstrate that we have been able to get this boogeyman called race behind us. And so they are going to vote for him, whether he has credentials or not, whether he has any experience."
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson became the first black manager in the modern major leagues. There have been many since. Robinson's hiring made a statement about the irrelevance of race. Years later, when his team underperformed, Robinson was fired.
Obama can be fired, as well.