So, We’re Going to Have a Black President. What Does That Mean, Exactly?

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The horror within is totally whimsical. Photo: Getty Images

A few minutes ago on The View, host Sherri Shepard burst into tears recounting her election evening, during which she watched the returns with her young son and realized that he would grow up with "no limitations." Since the election was called last night, we've been seeing and hearing such sentiments on television, in the papers, and from our friends. It's jarring. Suddenly, after two years of Barack Obama convincing us to judge him — as Martin Luther King Jr. would have said — not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character, now all everyone can talk about is that he's black. So has everything changed? Here's what people are saying.

• Tina Brown suggests that America had already changed — it just needed to be made aware of that fact. "Last night President-Elect Barack Obama gave America back its idea of itself," she writes. "Just by winning he restored the nobility of a dream that has inspired the world for 230 years." [Daily Beast]

• Anna Quindlen says the time for worrying about whether this will lull Americans into ignoring racism is for later. Now it's important to honor the change America has undergone in one century. "For a long time a black man in many parts of the United States was denied even the honorific 'Mister' by the white community, and was instead called by his first name, like a child, no matter how elderly and esteemed he might be," she reminds readers. "Now a black man will be called Mr. President." [Newsweek]

• Nelson Mandela said that Obama's election was an important step toward blending with the international community. "We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream (of) making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all." [Nation]

• Thomas Friedman wondered if we were seeing a new kind of racial politics. "There also may have been something of a 'Buffett effect' that countered the supposed 'Bradley effect' — white voters telling pollsters they’d vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite," he writes. "It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men’s grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes." [NYT]

• Greg Sargent saw the victory as an end to old, divisive politics that were born in a racially tortured era. By beating Hillary Clinton and John McCain (of the Clinton machine and Rove-Atwater brand) he "defeated not one, but both of the leading practitioners of that 1960s-rooted cultural politics. More to the point, he did this by quite literally running against politics as both those groups practiced it." [TPM]

• Touré frets that with a black man in the White House, there will be no one for other black men to rail against as "the man" or "whitey." [Daily Beast]

• The ever-brilliant Onion takes the wind out of everyone's sails with an article titled "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." [Onion]