Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech On Race In America



The Huffington Post has the transcript.

Obama: I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

That is a very truthful statement about many people's ethnic backgrounds in this country.

The speech get sidetracked with Obama doing damage control over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy.

Obama does a good job explaining the black church experience. Will that play well with the general public is a serious question for the campaign.

Obama: But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

It is a gutsy political move on Obama's part to directly address the issue.

A good moment in the speech is Obama discussing how both blacks and whites blame other races for their problems. This has polarized Americans and hindered efforts to solve problems.

Obama: But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

The Southern Strategy is alive and well in the Republican Party.

The speech is presidential in how we wished are presidents behaved. Obama faced a controversy and talked candidly about the matter and the bigger problem of racial tensions in America. John McCain and Hillary Clinton have hardly shown this level of political courage in dealing with their racial and religious controversies.

Obama: We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

I have never heard a presidential campaign speech like this. I like to get feedback from readers on what they think. This speech is a big deal and I like to start a discussion on it. Lurkers start commenting.

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4 Comments:

At March 18, 2008 11:56 PM , Blogger tas said...

I've never heard such a candid speech from a top tier major party candidate. Here's some comments I made about it at my blog: 'Obama's speech is remarkable for its bluntness and candidness. Some will criticize it as Obama spouting off his boilerplate "change" and "come together" arguments, but he shows a deep understanding of the racial divide in this country and the anger that it has birthed -- and the candidness comes from the fact that Obama is expressing this in head on. He's not backing down from the argument: he's reframing the argument to show what's truly going on.'

 
At March 19, 2008 7:09 PM , Blogger Vox Populi said...

I don't think he's showing what's truly going on. I think he's claiming that he is the 'healer'. OF course, I disagree vehemently.
NO one person can claim to be the healing factor. That's laughable. The thing is that time and love are the only things that will heal the unseen rift between the races. I don't know very many people who do not have black/white/latino mix in their family. So, where's the rift? The rift left is the blacks who hate whites and the whites who hate blacks. Can't help that until these same people stop passing hate on to the next generation.

I'm looking around at more interracial marriages and friendships and anything else that the alleged 'two races' can do together and I'm just not seeing all this anger and resentment.
I think it's kinda sad that he's driving this train.
Blacks were not the only slaves. Dutch, Irish, Cuban, Indian ... the list goes on.
It has always kinda upset me as a devoted member of 'eracism' that black folks usurp this anger for themselves.
Slavery was a travesty; certainly not uniquely American. LOL It's still going on .. they just call it human trafficking. In fact, the DOC uses slave labor almost every day on the roads I drive. They're called inmates. Yep, sometimes in chains, sometimes not.
Unlike yall, THIS is the speech that makes me want to set down my vow not to bash a democratic presidential candidate and give obama a bash or two.
I'm no fan of obama.

The wool over the eyes.
Oprah is choosing the next President of the United States.
Some of the people I respect most are supporting him. I just don't get it.
I'm very VERY proud of my family's history involving civil rights. But, civil rights aren't just for black folks and certainly, people of color were not the only ones marginalized and FUCKED OVER by America.

A big shout out to the Indians.
If Oprah were an American Indian would we have an American Indian having his say and talking of their pain??
I'm not impressed.
Don't yell at me, tas. LOL

 
At March 19, 2008 11:48 PM , Blogger tas said...

Vox, he said in his speech that no one thing or person can be a healer, and he included himself in that sentence. So Obama agrees with you there.

As for the slavery issue...

I think it's kinda sad that he's driving this train.
Blacks were not the only slaves. Dutch, Irish, Cuban, Indian ... the list goes on.


They weren't slaves; they chose to come to America. They weren't forced onto ships, packed in like sardines on a wooden boat for a couple months while crossing the Atlantic, forced to live in their own shit and the dead bodies of their friends during transit. They weren't counted as 3/5 of a person during the Constitutional convention. They didn't have to wait until the 60s to get their voting problems solved. They still know their family trees. Etc., etc... This isn't to demean the labor problems that lead to the institution of unions in this country, but the treatment of immigrants who chose to come to America is in no way comparable to that of black slaves.

 
At March 20, 2008 3:50 PM , Blogger Vox Populi said...

OH but they WERE ... if you read the history of America many cultures were forced here. Through the west indies.
And, as well, women weren't even counted in the Constitution.

Why isn't Hillary playing this anger card?

Maybe because I'm here in the Deep south (please come save me) watching what I watch every day. The blacks who were slaves and the whites who 'owned' them have the same handy working relationship they enjoyed for years. They're ALL driving Mercedes now. It's interesting how I came on this information.
This subject is very skewed.
Perhaps it is also my ancestry and books that were kept in my home and others we visited growing up. Irish, Scotch, Indian, Dutch, many others... there are many accounts of the FORCED journeys of white slaves in the seventeenth century.
Until all the reparations stuff came up I thought EVERYONE knew that.
Here's an accounting similar to what I have read ... on the subject
excerpt for the lurkers ..> COME ON COMMENT !!! LOL
The Journal of Negro History #52 pp.251-273 states, “The sources of racial thought in Colonial America pertaining to slave trade worked both directions with white merchandise as well as black.”

Thomas Burton recorded in his Parliament Diary 1656-1659 vol. 4 pp. 253-274 a debate in the English Parliament focusing on the selling of British whites into slavery in the New World. The debate refers to whites as slaves ‘whose enslavement threatened the liberties of all Englishmen.’

The British government had realized as early as the 1640’s how beneficial white slave labor was to the profiting colonial plantations. Slavery was instituted as early as 1627 in the British West Indies. The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series of 1701 records 25000 slaves in Barbados in which 21700 were white slaves.

George Downing wrote a letter to the honorable John Winthrop Colonial Governor of Massachusetts in 1645, “planters who want to make a fortune in the West Indies must procure white slave labor out of England if they wanted to succeed.” Lewis Cecil Gray’s History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860 vol.1 pp 316, 318 records Sir George Sandys’ 1618 plan for Virginia, referring to bound whites assigned to the treasurer’s office. “To belong to said office forever. The service of whites bound to Berkeley Hundred was deemed perpetual.”

The Quoke Walker case in Massachusetts 1773 ruled that; slavery contrary to the state Constitution was applied equally to Blacks and Whites in Massachusetts.

Statutes at Large of Virginia, vol. 1 pp. 174, 198, 200, 243 & 306 did not discriminate Negroes in bondage from Whites in Bondage.

We're Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish and Indian. Third generation. I've long noted that my Grandfather made possible for ME things that other Irish do not come by as easily. Or other English. Places like Publix keep them part-time forever ... because they CAN. Slavery is still not over in America or anywhere else.
I just don't agree that it's a black thing.
Thank you for pointing out that obama agrees with me ... I have to admit to being over-saturated with his name to the point I skim read.

He just irritates me.

Anyway, I don't have any idea what nationality anyone who blogs is other than a few obvious ones. I just thought everyone knew that part of history we grew up with ...
We always knew. If my Grandfather had been on the Titanic I would not be here now because he would have died in the hold while my Grandma would have never met him as she came from 'upper class English' but was a very down to earth woman.
Over my lifetime I have long noted (but only recently became aware) of the factions fighting for my loyalty and clan-identity. FUCK THAT.
I'm American through and through. IF America exists anywhere but in my head.
Sometimes I think there's only about a few hundred of us that actually believe all that constitutional freedom bullshit.
Anyway .. there's more to the story.
That's all I want to point out.
AND, I am every bit as ENRAGED for the blacks as I am for the Irish and black Irish and white irish and etc...
WHERE is THEIR rage for MY people??

Which includes ALL people because ethnocentrism makes me want to hurl.

 

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