January 18, 2010

WE TALK SO LITTLE ABOUT RACE IT'S ALMOST LIKE WE DON'T CARE MUCH ABOUT IT:

The Forgotten Promise of Obama's Race Speech: We thought our first African-American president would strengthen our national dialogue on race, but our conversations remain as superficial as before. (Latoya Peterson, January 18, 2010, American Prospect)

On March 18, 2008, then candidate Barack Obama gave a speech on race in Philadelphia designed to lance the boil of the Jeremiah Wright controversy and provide a thoughtful commentary on the current state of race in our nation. Less than a year later, on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated president. Buoyed by his thoughtful prose and the promise of a progressive approach to race and race relations, he rode a tide of change into the Oval Office.

But sadly, the progress hoped for by many in minority communities has not materialized. Instead, our conversations about race and its impact on American life are no more insightful or sophisticated than before, as evidenced by the discomfort we have in discussing racial issues in anything other than a superficial form.


The UR's race speech was awful, which is why he kept having to come readdress the issue that week. But what was significant was the reason he had to give the speech in the first place.

No one really cared about the candidate's ethnicity. He didn't make a big deal out of being partly black in his campaigning and certainly offered no political program that derived from racial issues. But his membership in a church that was so focused on race raised questions about whether he was hiding the same sort of racial obsessions as the Reverend Wright.

While he handled the matter badly, he did at least make clear that he was more than happy to kick the good Rev to the curb rather than have him wreck the campaign. That's all folks wanted to know. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were unacceptable to voters for a variety of reasons, but none more important than that we had no desire to hear them rave on about race and racism. Mr. Obama had to convince us that we'd not hear about it from him if we were to elect him.

The idea that he was elected so that we could discuss the topic more is just lunatic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2010 2:02 PM
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