Barack Obama's 2008 election victory marked a step forward for US race relations, but a 2012 win would be an even bigger sign of progress, writes Touré in Time. How so? The 2008 Obama was a "superhero"; his election that year reminded Touré of a maxim from his mother "that being black meant I had to be twice as good to get ahead." In many ways, Obama was like the "magical Negro" figure of much US fiction, from Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Morpheus in The Matrix.
But the "magical" black man notion is "infantilizing and offensive," pointing to an "alien" source of black excellence. What's more, it doesn't apply to Obama anymore, thanks to a tough four years. He's proven to be a mere mortal, and yet he's still leading in the polls. Voting for a superhero is one thing, writes Touré, but "to embrace a non-magical black person who cannot promise anything but hope, intelligence, sweat, and experience—now that comes closer to equality." Read his full essay here. (Read more President Obama stories.)