The other day a coworker and I had the age-old lunchtime debate: will a white woman or a black man become president of the U.S. first?
I tend to think the former; my coworker thought the latter. It was interesting, though, because our backgrounds naturally predisposed us to our answers. I have the resume filled with civil rights and multi-racial coalitions, and work with immigrant populations and communities of color, and I'm pretty pessimistic about progress in American attitudes about race. She on the other hand went to all-female schools her entire life and has been very involved in mainstream feminist groups and pro-choice organizations, and despite the huge gains for women in the past 40 years, is more cynical than anyone I've ever met about American perceptions of women as leaders.
The question might overly simplify the issue of social inequality by ignoring a hell of a lot of other groups, but in some ways it's more realistic and cuts straight to the chase. (I remember first having the debate during lunch in high school!) The issue isn't which oppressed group "trumps" another by becoming more assimilated or "accepted" or mainstream. The issue is more about achieving economic, social, and political equality, and the role of power, though the word "power" itself has certain meritocracy-crushing connotations.
It was a pretty interesting half-hour discussion.