Tuesday’s Washington Post has something I haven’t seen before — a rough-and-tumble account of racist sentiment that people out campaigning for Barack Obama have encountered:
For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.
The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.
It’s worth reading the whole thing, both for the solid reporting and for a reminder that, while race has played a role in the primary, especially lately, it could have loomed much larger all these months. Or maybe it was, and most of us just didn’t notice.