We all know that Americans are prone to fashion frenzies. That causes, from time to time, many bubbles that grow to incredible proportions and eventually burst, leaving expectations, illusions and, more often than not, a great deal of money by the roadside. But, since the last presidential election, I have spotted a new and highly original fashion that seems to be catching up and could soon turn into a new frenzy: blacks. They call them African-Americans but I refuse to use that expression until the whites are called European-Americans; and I do not like being called Caucasian either, not willing to be associated with such an unruly part of Europe.
There is hardly a political debate or talk show now on any TV channel not having a black in it, usually saying very sensible-sounding things. They do not just offer, they deliver their opinions with a self-assurance seldom seen before, while their white colleagues look at them totally mesmerised by the depth and intensity of what they are hearing. White journalists appear immersed in a hot contest to produce the phrase that best reflects history in the making. I heard one commenting on Barbara Bush's invitation to Mrs. Obama, a few days ago, to tour the residential area of the White House that it would be "the first time that a black lady is invited to those areas of the building"; a phrase that will not win its author the Pulitzer Prize, since it is conspicuous by its obviousness.
Even the commercial breaks offer ads featuring whites and blacks interrelating in their efforts to carry the message across. While TV networks in the past were careful to avoid, whenever possible, the subject of inter-racial marriage or intimate relationships, I saw an ad in which a black man was combing his hair, in what looked like a hotel room, while on the left of the screen, in the foreground, the back of a blond female head could be seen.
A black has climbed to the summit, the political Mount Everest, and it looks like if a veil has been removed. Mr. Obama has, in just the few hours the polls were open, made more of a change than all libertarians and opinion makers that preceded him. In all fairness, he deserves, and probably needs, a great deal of luck in the trying four years that lay ahead.
Most of us know that he got elected because he is only half black and talks really like a white. None of us know what he is planning to do there, since he has not bothered to tell. His motto was "change" but did not say into what. But the veil has disappeared and now it is fashionable to be seen sitting by, or talking and listening to a black. And in this dizzily growing atmosphere, one can imagine most middle of the road white Americans racking their brains, and their notebooks, looking for past black casual acquaintances that could quickly be turned into friendships, thus fitting smoothly into the trend.
Out in the streets, expectations show no boundary. I heard a black woman say, at an impromptu opinion poll, that what she expected from Barack Obama's presidency was "free gas and mortgages". Some things never change.
Blacks are definitely in fashion and America has found a new religion, another idol to worship. Thou shall love thy black neighbour. This is of course fine but one can only hope that it does not turn into another frenzy; since, given the American known obsession to turn fashions, trends and religious mandates into law, being black could soon be made compulsory.