I listened to Jon Lovett interview LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, this morning on the Lovett or Leave It podcast. Here's the video of that interview.
The thing that stuck out to me the most was how she pointed out that black women have really been the most consistent force for social justice in America since even before they got the right to vote, and pointed out that if Joe Biden did pick a black woman as his VP, that would of course be important, but there are thousands of black women who are more than qualified to fill that roll, and there have been throughout America's history.
So again, it's kind of like the Jackie Robinson thing-- it's not that he was some kind of super special black man who finally broke through the race barrier to become the first black player in Major League Baseball. He was special, and talented, and impressive, but thousands of black men have been equally so without making it into the MLB, because it was the MLB who constructed that racial barrier in the first place, and it was their decision to allow a black man to "break" it.
Equally, it would not be some kind of triumph for black women if Joe Biden picked a black woman as his VP-- it's literally the least he could do. Just as it was the least white America could do to deign to vote for a black man for president in 2008, and again in 2012.
If you overlook the skills, talent, and knowledge of a group of people for centuries and then finally acknowledge it for a specific member of that group, it's not a triumph for that group. It's not like one of them finally rose to meet the standards set by the majority. It's that some particularly powerful member of the majority managed to overcome their own prejudice long enough to recognize the merits of at least one member of that long-overlooked group.
Which, yes, is a good thing. A great thing. Something to be celebrated, and we should totally celebrate if Biden picks a black women VP who eventually becomes the first black woman VP of the country. But we should be very clear, while doing so, in emphasizing that individual white people being slightly less racist does not indicate anything like the end of racism in America.