The previous post's thoughts about the legacy of race are very strong. I think that there is much there. William Faulkner once wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This might help to explain why the past of racism and discrimination make it impossible to sense that we are in a realm that is post- racial. I think that much of this can be seen with the recent discussion of the building of the community center with prayer room adjacent to Ground Zero. While there are many individuals who are in disagreement with one another for legitimate issues of content and belief, there are those who are seizing this "teachable moment" to advance an agenda that targets Islam and followers of the religion. The same type of arguments predicated upon race that have been part of American History have come up in this arena, as well. This would be one reason why it is fair to say that we are not living in a post- racial world. I would also argue on what grounds one could make to suggest that we have gone beyond race. Certainly, the issue of race and ethnicity are present in evaluating the equality of opportunity to all of American citizens. There is still a crisis of representation in positions that hold economic, social, and political power in our society. While advancements are present, I think that one is mistaken to believe that there have been instances where "race" has been transcended and moved into another realm that can consider these elements to be "past."
I think that one reason why we are not living in a post-racial society yet because it is very hard to erase the legacy of a long past in a very short time. We who are my age and younger (and I imagine this is more so for you if you are college aged) have no memory of the era of segregation and so it seems like it is something from another world. But there are plenty of people walking around who do remember it. And we have to remember that segregation was around for a long time and before that there was slavery. So we have the habits of a few hundred years built into our society and we have had only a short time to get over those.
I think it is also the case that bringing up racial animosities is good politics for leaders both black and white. Many blacks understandably feel that the effects of past racism still impact their lives today and their leaders play to that. Many conservative whites understandably feel that America used to belong to them and is being taken away and their leaders play to that.
I think these factors account for most of why we are not "over" race yet in the US.