I thoroughly enjoyed the article presented here. I was deeply moved by Obama's speech. It was both brave and sincere. I write here not in response to either but in response to the response.
Prior to this I think I was somewhat overly optimistic. I thought, and still hold out hope, that finally we are moving away from the racist ideologies that have defined our country for too long. Unfortunately the responses to the snippets of Rev. Wright's sermons and to Obama's speech reveal how much further we still have to go.
They reveal a prevalent denial of our history and current moment in time. Putting our whole racially biased prison system on the shelf for a moment, we just a few seconds ago were discussing the racist treatment of six kids in Jena, Louisiana. These incidents are not unique. In liberal Baltimore I constantly have to correct the racist and bigoted comments directed at my children. If I go back a few months, pundits were defending the racist diatribe of Don Imus. Still further back, there was Hurricane Katrina. I could keep going in either direction. Everything about who we are, where we are and what we experience is still tainted by race. Less so but… still so.
When are people in this country going to fully embrace this country for what it was and is--the good and bad? Our history is tainted by foul racism. And while it might be convenient and safer to boil our history of race problems down to the separate bathrooms of the Jim Crow era, it’s insulting to the thousands of people who were murdered because of race in this country. People of all colors did not fight over separate bathrooms. It was not about sharing a damn water fountain. And to simplify the lives of those people to that is---do I have the words? nothing adequate--insulting and repulsive.
Obama is where he is not because he is a black man, half-white man, Harvard graduate or young senator. Obama is where he is because of something not easily defined, something that has nothing or maybe everything to do with those things. Obama is where he is because those of us with our eyes open see and hear greatness. We can think about those other imperfect, inexperienced men who created an imperfect country with imperfect beliefs about equality without knowing where it would go or if it would survive.
While gender inequality and violence against women are important, they are different issues and not relevant to this particular conversation.
Why is it so difficult for so many of us to deal with the impact of racism on Americans today? Or in the past? Why do so many of us readily dismiss the anger of Rev. Wright and label him as some sort of throwback? Why haven’t many of us listened to the entire sermon, which wasn’t so much about examining/blaming/labeling America as it was about self-examination in the face of extreme adversity? Why are so many people afraid to call Ferraro a racist? When will we grow up and admit we have work to do?
Mar 23 2008 - 8:03pm