Just talking about it is considered taboo. That doesn't change the fact that racial discrimination hovers like a dark cloud over this election.
We hear that all men are created equal, Americans are tolerant and colorblind and other noble talk like that. Unfortunately a "but" comes after many such statements. In Bible Belt and Redneck country (they frequently overlap), tolerance is a word frequently heard but seldom practiced.
No matter what they may express in words, deep down most W.A.S.P.s (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) and NASCAR Dads (a pseudonym for Rednecks) vote for someone who looks like them, talks like them, thinks like them, likes the things they like, attends the churches they attend and fits the "he's just like us" image. They tend to call any well-educated person an elitist. They are prone to believing untrue rumors spread by email or talk radio. They have only a rudimentary idea of the issues and aren't really concerned about them.
It wasn't all that long ago that I had to get up and move forward in the bus so that a black woman and her two young children could climb aboard. In places where that and other acts of segregation were an accepted way of life, attitudes approving it as fair and just still prevail although many won't admit it publicly and others don't agree with it.
In flat Midwestern farm country and its countless small towns it isn't mandatory that a person be a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant to be accepted as an equal but it certainly is important. People will deny this, of course, often by beginning a statement with, "I'm not prejudiced, but . . ."
Large industrial cities are home to numerous people lacking even a basic education, people who have trouble making a sentence using proper English, yet harbor a false sense of superiority to anyone whose skin is any color other than white.
A visitor will find intelligent, open-minded men and women in any of these places. Unfortunately, they are still in the minority.
Barack Obama has a chance of winning only if young people turn out in record number. Some members of younger generations have been indoctrinated by their parents to hate. Far more make up their own minds. In thirty years, a black or a Hispanic or an oriental or a mid-easterner or even an American Indian will have a far better chance of being elected president. That doesn't mean Obama can't win, only that doing so is far more difficult for him because he is only half white. Many will deny this, but it's true.