Obama and Racism part II: The reaction to the speech

Senator Barack Obama, delivered one of the most profound speeches in this election cycle thus far. Some even suggest this is a speech for the history books on the level of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. , and many of the great men and women throughout America’s history. Today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania marked a definitive new direction and choice for America.

For me, Senator Obama reaffirmed as I said in my first post “Obama and Racism” a little over a year ago that he truly represents all that is and can be right with America. Many of the naysayers will ignore the speech and resort to over looking it. However, the true story of the speech is that Senator Obama didn’t have to address every issue that he did, he could have just left issue alone. He addressed major points and themes that all Americans really needed to hear. I believe he delivered the death blow to those who want to dwell on the past and continually divide America.

He talked about everyone’s responsibility to be individual agents of change. He made me feel like anything is possible for this country. He reaffirmed the Hope and idealism that makes this country so great. In truth, no matter what happens whether he is elected or not, America should be very proud to have such a voice in our politics.

From what I have been reading on the blogs, message boards, etc. I can see that most people agree with me. There is that element out there that just won’t let go. They want to tar and feather Obama and will swat at gnats in order to continue to stir the pot. Let’s pray for these people. I truly believe if America wants to profoundly declare itself as the moral leader, light, and beacon of the world we will elect Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States. If not then we could choose to never turn the page on our dark past and keep the racial, gender, and religious divisions going.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. 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.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

This is what we need to remember: We are different, we are diverse, but no matter how different or diverse, we are still one people. One people that needs to move toward the future together.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

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.

What we have to ask ourselves is this: If this speech was not the politically safe thing to do, then why did Barack Obama do it? I believe this alludes to and proves the content of character and morals of Senator Obama. He is willing to say what needs to be said in order to address all our ills so that we may come together as one people. You can nit pick at every word and find something that you don’t like, but we have to question ourselves as to the intention. If the speech is politically dangerous, then it must speak volumes about the politician that is willing to do what others would not.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

I truly pray that the majority of Americans get the spirit of this message and not find more to widen our divisions. Obama is truly a uniter, I pray we can see that, lest we continue down the path we are headed….

We can either work to change the way things are or we can continue to do the same things over and over expecting different results.

Ultimately, the choice is ours.


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