For instance, non-white people who interact in largely white settings or appear in public often restrain modes of behavior that would further mark them as different. I don’t know what modes of black expression Barack and Michelle Obama are used to using in private, but they certainly must feel a need to check themselves in public.
Who knows what these two happy people were thinking in this moment, but they knew they were in public, and they probably modified their behavior accordingly. And racial self-consciousness probably had something to do with that. Maybe Barack thought a high-five would register as too black, or too casual, or maybe he just prefers the dap, though that also registers as black, to most American observers.
Maybe white people will get more used to blackness, and to markers of it–things like black music, and black gestures, and black words and phrases and names. Today is a day to be especially hopeful, and these are among the things I’m hoping for.
Finally, here’s one more especially black moment, performed by Barack Obama. And here’s one more hope–that we see more such moments, and that they make white America love him even more, as he helps them get used to blackness.