For Blacks, a Quiet Question: What if Obama Loses?

Many blacks didn't think Obama would get this far. So how will we react if he come up short?

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

Supporters at a rally in Florence, S.C.

The first time I saw the Obama gear, I knew it had begun. I do not mean the official campaign paraphernalia. I'm talking about the wares hawked here in Harlem, the black tees sold in sizes up to 5XL, with Barack Obama's head slightly out of proportion. I bought mine on Lenox and 125th--a mustard number with Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama juxtaposed underneath the words ALPHA and OMEGA. That's when I smelled the air and understood that Obama was running not simply to be President but also to be the next head chiseled on the face of the imaginary...

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