The View From Abroad - Kyrgyzstan

A reader from Kyrgyzstan writes:

With Kyrgyz and Russian locals, as well as with many mostly-European expats.  I hear the refrain "America will never elect a black man" most often.  After South Carolina I heard that "only black people are voting for Obama" (I kindly reminded them of Iowa). 

And, sadly, I hear "America will never elect a Muslim" quite often too.  I'm not exactly sure where this is coming from (I doubt the email smears have been translated into Russian), but headlines like this, from a popular Russian news website when Obama entered the race, certainly don't help: "Iraq Hussein Osama, President of America."

What constantly surprises me though is that locals in Kyrgyzstan (about as far away from America as you can get) are actually following the election, and that some of them are following it very closely.  Considering the considerable apathy towards elections here, this fact is quite shocking.

The European expats here, however, generally do think that America would elect a black man to be president, but quickly point out that it would never happen in Europe... which got me to thinking: would Obama be the first black head of state in a country where blacks are in the minority?  After a quick search, I don't think this is the case, (Guyana, which is 50% east Indian and 36% black has had a few black presidents), but nonetheless America electing a black president would not just be an important moment in the history of America, it would be an important moment in history, period.