London, Feb.28 : The chairman of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, who is also the country's most influential black figure, has warned that Barack Obama will prolong rather than end America's racial divide should he become the next president.
Accusing Obama of "ruthless cynicism", Phillips said he would not be "the harbinger of a post-racial America" if he becomes that country's first black president.
Phillips' writing in an article for Prospect magazine, was quoted by The Independent as saying that it was wrong to herald Obama as the "new JFK". Rather, he should be seen as a person who could emulate the "charm, skill and ruthless cynicism" of Bill Clinton.
Mr Phillips believed there were two types of influential black figures in America, both of whom keep race at the heart of US life -- "challengers", whose ambitions are limited to winning piecemeal concessions for blacks, and "bargainers", who do not make an issue of "white racism" if whites do not play the race card against them. He described Obama as a "natural bargainer".
Phillips said he would be surprised if Obama saw off Hillary Clinton's challenge to win the Democrats' nomination, and conceded that it might happen.
The broadcaster and former Labour politician wrote: "For the black underclass and beyond, Obama may be the latest messiah, but there is anecdotal evidence that, where blacks have prospered to the extent that they are grimly competing for jobs and property with whites, they don't buy 'Obamania'. I would guess this is because the people who actually experience just how far America remains from post-racial harmony are those blacks who work with whites."
Phillips' scepticism about Obama contrasts with the support for him voiced by David Lammy, the black Skills minister. He has described Obama as "charming and intelligent but refreshingly able to laugh at himself" and compared him to presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy.