Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's Speech about Racism in America: First Impressions

I just finished seeing Barack Obama's speech about racism in America, delivered in Philadelphia. It was the most extraordinary speech I've heard about racism - about its roots and realities in black and white America, about the legitimate grievances and fears of both communities - delivered by anyone, let alone someone running for President.

Obama also talked about Rev. Wright. I don't know if Obama can ever give a satisfactory explanation for why he kept this man as his pastor for so many years. Obama cannot now go back in time and undo that. However much he now condemns what Wright said, however much Obama wants to stand by him as a friend and a human being - none of that can change what Wright said, and Obama's relationship with him for so many years.

Bur Obama's speech this morning was so important, so courageous and perceptive in what it addressed, that Obama's relationship with Wright may no longer matter.

As Obama stressed many times, America can never move forward unless those issues are publicly addressed - reverse discrimination, which whites are, and feel they are, subjected to; and discrimination, which blacks are, and feel they are, subjected to. Both of these realities need to be considered and discussed in our political campaigns. Otherwise, we will indeed never move forward.

Barack Obama has been presenting himself as a new kind of candidate. He demonstrated that eloquently, magnificently, today, and certainly showed why any American who truly wants to move into the 21st century should vote for him.

See also: Further Thoughts on Obama's Speech on Racism, and the Need to Keep Politics and Religion Separate
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