Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Speech

I'm obviously talking about the speech by Senator Obama (or as my dear Matty calls him, "Your boyfriend Barack Obama").

It struck me as the first speech of its kind in modern politics tackling race, one that was sophisticated, nuanced and just kind of "let's talk about the elephant in the room". Of course the Rightosphere started pulling sentences out and deriding them, because god forbid we actually try to have an adult discussion about race in this country that doesn't boil down to some tirade on affirmative action or urban crime or Angry Black Men. God forbid we actually acknowledge that the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow exist in America. Hell, you need only look at some reactions to this speech to prove it. And god forbid we don't foment the rage of economically-challenged white males, right? Cause who will vote against their own economic self-interest if they aren't mad enough about some distraction to do so?

What I found most powerful about the speech was his attempt to bridge the divide. As a person of mixed race, discussing the very legitimate grievances of both blacks and whites, neither of whom should be branded racist for holding their views. That prejudice can exist in many forms and that we can't--black or white--use our communal past and ongoing feelings of being somehow shortchanged as an excuse to not create a meaningful future for our kids and our families and our country.

I see this speech as a beginning. A start of a dialogue if our country is strong enough to step up to it. After all, what are we so afraid of? And why have we been so resistant to having it? As Obama said, we've been dancing around this honest discussion for 50 years, to no great result, for either blacks or whites. Because the success or failure of "those kids" and "those people" really does matter in our economy, our society and our way of life; because whatever color "those kids" are, as Americans, they are "our kids."

I've done his 40 minute speech absolutely zero justice here, so it's worth your own look-see, regardless of who you support in this election.

Glenn Greenwald says it way better than I do:

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