Since Mitt Romney's sudden, abrupt turnaround after the first Presidential debate, Democrats have rushed to analyze the reasons behind President Obama's performance. And curiously, given the Left's prior obsession with this issue, one factor that has remained all but completely ignored is the question of racism.
Now, that silence has been broken by a professor at the University of Rochester named Stephanie Li. Li has argued in a Huffington Post article posted today that Romney's success in life is based on "privilege" - specifically, privilege based on Romney's skin color, though not exclusively:
The Romney's [sic] shortsightedness on this issue demonstrates their ignorance of one of the central ideas in the field of critical race studies, the unearned privileges accorded to whiteness. In her foundational essay, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," Peggy McIntosh likens whiteness to "an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks." McIntosh goes on to list dozens of ways in which her whiteness provides her with greater degrees of social validation, convenience, comfort, safety and opportunity. She enumerates how because of her whiteness she "can be sure that if I ask to talk to 'the person in charge' I will be facing a person of my race" and "Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability." Read by countless high school and college students every year, McIntosh's essay is a classic in understanding how whiteness, with its close associations to financial stability, remains an invisible standard in American society. Critical race studies has elucidated the ways in which all Americans are impacted by their racial identities, and how whiteness is not a universal model of being, but instead a specific social construction.
Romney truly is the whitest man to run for president because he doesn't realize how his whiteness has influenced his life and how his class standing provided him with remarkable educational and financial opportunities. Instead he explains in the leaked video, "I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America." Romney's blindness to his own racial and class privilege feeds into the myth of meritocracy, the false illusion that simply by hard work and steely determination, it is possible to attain the American dream. According to the 2010 census, 40 percent of black children are born into poverty compared to 8 percent of white children. None of these children, black or white, are born with silver spoons.
CampusReform spotted this racially focused op ed and blew the whistle on it. It is consistent with a video released by the liberal organization The Message, which has accused Romney of being "so white [he] makes Wonderbreak look like Pumpernickel."
Also, the article's citation of "Critical Race Studies" evinces an ideological predisposition that may have been held by the President himself, who famously hugged - and gave a speech supporting - Critical Race Theorist Derrick Bell during his time at Harvard Law School. It is probably that the President has moved on from this way of thinking since his law school days, it is instructive to know just what Barack Obama as a Law School student might have thought of his fellow Harvard alumnus Mitt Romney. Moreover, this information may provide some clues as to why Obama in the present day might view Romney with such well-publicized contempt.