By Pilar Marrero, La Opinión columnist and FI2W contributor
The last few weeks have proven again that for a “post racial” leader, elected for the content of his message -and regardless of the color of his skin- the racial and ethnic lines that subtly divide this country will surely affect the way Barack Obama governs after January 20th.
Even before taking office, the president-elect has had to confront –again- the thorny issue of his relationship with Latinos and Latino leadership. It was an issue that plagued his campaign, particularly during the primaries.
His appointments to the cabinet and to the ranks of White House “West Wing” advisors have been closely watched –and criticized- by Latino leaders. From the onset they were pushing a broad agenda, including Bill Richardson’s appointment as secretary of state.
The fact that Obama chose Hillary Clinton instead of Richardson – who supported him during the primary and had to withstand being called “Judas” by the Clinton campaign for doing it – set many tongues wagging about how the governor of New Mexico got the lesser appointment. The word “treason” was uttered by some political observers in private conversations.
The criticism began with the initial absence of Latinos among Obama’s first appointments: the economic team, the “kitchen cabinet” of close advisers that will surround him every day. There were several Latinos named to the transition team, but that was not seen as enough by some Hispanic leaders and commentators.