Washington (CNN) - The uproar last week over a proposed campaign ad highlighting President Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, lit up political circles before organizers finally backed off the idea.
And Mitt Romney came under fire from evangelicals before his speech to Liberty University in Virginia earlier this month because some at the traditional Christian school still believe Mormonism is a cult.
Two very different candidates joined by similar, yet hollow, attacks on their faith illustrate the intense mix of identity politics simmering just beneath the surface of the presidential race.
When it comes to faith and race, there are some who want to paint both candidates as outside the mainstream, not members of the traditional American club. They want to paint them as "others."
Both Obama, the nation's first black president, and Romney, a Mormon, have found that their shared status as members of minority groups and political pioneers, in many ways, has also changed the rules of this presidential campaign cycle, said Nancy Wadsworth, co-editor of the anthology "Faith and Race in American Political Life."
Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
(CNN) – It feels as if I've been living a double life all of these years, and I do not want to deceive you, or myself, any longer. The burden has become too heavy, the struggle to deny my true self, too great.
In order to be free I have tell you something. I am black.
I know; I should have told you sooner. But I was afraid. After all, I've already shared with you that I am gay and well, we all know a person can't be both.
At least that's how it feels the conversation is usually framed: There's a black community and a gay community, and the two conflict and do not mix. Since President Obama voiced support for marriage equality and now the board of the NAACP has followed suit, the narrative is that the black community is trying to make room at the table for gay people.
Allow me to correct this storyline: No one is making room for gay people, gay people have always been at the table, at the forefront.
What Obama, Jay-Z, Julian Bond, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and others have done over the past week is simply acknowledge life is not an "either/or" proposition but rather an emphatic "and." Boxes are for shoes, not people. So while compartmentalizing folks makes it easier to herd people into target groups and voting blocs, it's a gross misrepresentation of the reality of humanity.
I am gay. And I am black.
Editor’s Note: Shonda Rhimes, the creator, screenwriter and executive producer of "Grey’s Anatomy", "Private Practice" and "Scandal", spoke to CNN about identity, and diversity in television. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
By Sarah Springer, CNN
Shonda Rhimes on the diversity on her shows:
I think it’s fascinating to me that we still live in a world in which people truly believe that because someone is a different color than them, that they couldn’t relate to them or have a similar experience. That’s the most bizarre thing to me.
As a black girl on television, 90% of the women on television are not the same color as you. You’re relating to the experience of people who are not the same color as you. So why wouldn’t that work in then reverse for white people? I find it fascinating that we think that the world doesn’t work that way.
For me, “Grey’s” was about me making a statement. I was making a television show that I wanted to watch and part of that was putting people of all colors in it so that you saw people like you on television.
So people suggesting that just because you’re a certain color that you couldn’t write something or be relatable to different characters is sort of horrifying to me at this point.
It’s 2012: why are we still having this conversation?