The critical difference between a token and a legitimate representative of minorities, though, is that tokens are all hired or appointed by people who do not win many minority votes (or, in the case of [Herman] Cain, are elevated by white businesspeople). Unlike Senator-designate [Tim] Scott, [Michael] Steele, and Cain, Obama was elected by a coalition that included a large number of people of color. The notion that he represents people of color is not a fantasy presented by the racially dominant majority, driven by stereotypes and typecasting. Instead, it is rooted in the actions of everyday people, who actually voted for him. Another central feature of the dynamic of tokenism is the power disparity between the majority group and the minority individual. As the token is dependent on the majority group for his livelihood, he is required to reproduce the culture of the majority, not change it.
The eagerness with which contemporary society does away with racism, replacing this recognition with evocations of pluralism and diversity that further mask reality, is a response to the terror, but it has also become a way to perpetuate the terror by providing a cover, a hiding place.