Esquire Magazine asks if Sen. Edwards is last, white hope–contradictions ensue

By Guest Columnist Jul 25, 2007

Esquire asks: "can a white man still be elected president?" Does Race Matter? has recently posted a response to the latest cover of Esquire Magazine, which boldly asks, “can a white man still be elected president?” On the cover towers Sen. John Edwards, positioned in a superman stance (as one person commented on Racialicious) and looking ahead in all of his white glory. Let’s not forget the icing on the cake. Above John Edwards lies a half-naked woman accompanied by the headline, "sexiest woman alive." This cover says enough. We are being told that women and people of color are rising above a history of injustices, yet the reality is that the injustices persist today. Even if we do elect a white female or Black male president, people like the editors at Esquire, will continue to forget what racism and sexism looks like, especially as they make ‘white man’ synonymous with man and leader. Ultimately, Esquire can’t see how Sen. Hillary Clinton does not represent all women, and Sen. Barack Obama all people of color. Which is why Esquire conveys the message of the dawning of an age of “minorities”–a dystopia for the white man, as Wendi Muse reports. However, women and people of color are far from beating ‘the white man’ in other, non presidential races. Our television remains dominated by ideas of white masculinity, our celebrities, our news, our schools and other institutions remain Eurocentric. The current way in which our world is dominated by the white man will not be overcome by mere change of the American president. Further, racism and injustice are strongest when they give the appearance of their absence. So while I hope we elect a president who is not a white man, I hope also that we will not use this election as a way of discrediting future claims of inequality by women and people of color. Thoughts? –Sara Rosell, an intern at the Applied Research Center, is a junior rhetoric and ethnic studies major at the University of California-Berkeley.