Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Race Speech

Everyone is praising Barack Obama's race speech including me. For the first time I felt like he might not be a phony after all.

At the 2004 convention Obama rhapsodized, "There is no black America or white America but the United States of America." He impressed me then and afterwards as a wishful thinker (although surprisingly powerful organizer) full of pretty words and slogans such as "turn the page." To me, that sounded like, "refuse to face" or "run away from." I just thought he was all talk and, as he has learned to deny, naive.

Now comes a speech from Obama that for once rings real. Would he have made this speech if not pushed to the wall by video clips of his reverend of 20 years bellowing, "God Damn America" and "the US of KKKA"? That is a subject for another day. For once Obama dropped his sloganizing and spoke clearly. From experience, we know he is correct.

For example, a gentle colleague of Denny's named Ted (as I'll call him) was African American, and he told Denny that Den could never understand black rage. Mild, multi-degreed Ted, in a rage? Yes, because he was continually accosted by prejudice and injustice: being pulled over by police because of driving while black or walking the streets of the city while black (and sad to say such fears based in fact). At my own job, a good friend who was a nurse told me in utter seriousness that the government definitely addicted black persons to heroin and crack. The patients thought this, that was no surprise, but Laura? Her sureness conveyed to me an entire population who believed these things utterly.

What would be the reaction if Hillary gave a speech about sexism where, face it, there isn't much to commend the oppressor's point of view? Probably everyone would boo and hiss and make fun of her hairdo.


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