Today Obama will face his biggest challenge yet, facing down the race question. Despite his best efforts, America won't let the first black candidate for president dodge the Big One. America and its relationship with the race question won't be denied.
In his more reflective moments, Sen. Obama must wonder at the irony of it all, because, in truth, he's much less a part of the issue than most black Americans. His personal history brought him down an unusual, if not unique path as a biracial child who spent important parts of his life in multi-racial societies like Indonesia and Hawaii.
I'm pretty sure Chicago was as much of an education for him as it would have been for me, despite his skin color.
Still, it doesn't matter that his personal journey is so different than most black Americans because in fundamental ways that has never mattered. Ask any West Indian, African, Cape Verdean, biracial or even south Asian and you'll quickly find that in America melanin sooner or later trumps everything else. You don't need to be an illiterate gang member from some inner city slum to know that. You can be an Ivy-league educated, middle-aged, immigrant with a professional job and be reminded of it.
So Obama has to face the Big Issue and how well he does will probably determine not just his chances of being elected, but how well he'll be able to lead the country afterwards as well.