One thing hanging over Barack Obama is the idea — voiced by Debra Dickerson among others — that he isn’t really black. He was, after all, raised by his white mother. And his dad was from Kenya, not the descendant of American slaves. It seems to me that Joe Biden should have dispelled that kind of talk, by showing that Obama’s black enough to be subjected to bizarre race-related crap from white people.
Similarly, if you watch the NBA I think it’s clear that there’s a set of stereotypes associated with black players (“amazing speed and athleticism”) and a different set associated with Europeans (“incredible skills, but he’s too soft”) and also fairly clear that black Europeans (Parker, Diaw, Turiaf, etc.) are treated like blacks rather than like Europeans for these purposes.
UPDATE: See also Chris Hayes’ article on David Alexrod.