This is the most violated saying in American public life:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s acclaimed call in 1963 for a colorblind society has been displaced, at least in our politics, by an obsession with racial categories. That is the meaning of racialization.
It may be over four decades since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, but whenever America votes today, the exit polls can’t move fast enough to divide voters by the color of their skin. Mere moments after the 2012 exit polls were released, a conventional wisdom congealed across the media that the Republican Party was “too white.”
Let us posit that this subject wouldn’t have been raised if the bottom hadn’t fallen out of the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote. When George W. Bush attracted 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, there was no cry that the Republican Party was “too white.” The GOP’s problem with Hispanics today is a tangle of issues involving the law, labor and assimilation that is hardly reducible to the accusation that the party is too white.
In virtually every instance, the idea that the Republican Party is “too white” is dropped with almost no discussion of what exactly that means. The phrase is being pinned like a scarlet “W” on anyone who didn’t vote for the Democrats’ nominee. It’s a you-know-what-we-mean denunciation. Its only meaning is racial.