That the leader of the free world is now an African-American man, Thernstrom said, must make it easier and more attractive to move past race consciousness – and harder to justify preferences with arguments about the intractability of racism. “The younger generation is coming of age in a racially altered world,” Thernstrom said; eventually, campus politics will have to catch up.
Are Connerly and Thernstrom too optimistic? A friend of mine who is in a Ph.D. program at a large state university believes it will take at least a generation for the academy to get over its racism fetish. In her view, many academics are far too invested in the idea of deeply entrenched American racism to be swayed by Obama’s election; they may even dismiss it as irrelevant because Obama has a white mother and did not grow up in a ghetto. And activists and politicians are no less likely than academics to cling to their dogmas.