He is indeed the first "African American" President, unlike the millions of other black Americans whose ancestors were here longer than millions of white Americans. By the time that there was a United States of America, most black Americans had never seen Africa and neither had their grandparents.
There is no group less eligible to be called hyphenated Americans. Nevertheless, Barack Obama is one of them-- symbolically, at least-- and race is part of the symbolism of this moment.
Those who doubted that a black man could be elected to the highest office in the land no longer have a leg to stand on. That can be a force for good, when young blacks can no longer be told that there is no point in their trying to get ahead in this society because "the man" is going to stop them.
In another sense, the Obama presidency may not be nearly as big a change in the country as some might think. Colin Powell could probably have been elected eight years ago. But you don't know it can happen until it happens.
No doubt the race-hustling industry will continue, and no doubt their chief victims will be blacks, especially young blacks, who buy the paralyzing picture of victimhood and the counterproductive resentments which sap energies that could be better used to improve their own lives.
Now that we have the first black President of the United States, maybe we can move ahead to the time when we can forget about "the first" whatever to do what. There is too much serious work to do to spend more time on that.
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