Obama’s Speech on Race

A friend has been asking me, repeatedly, if I had seen Obama’s speech on race. She knows that I am fond of saying how much a distraction this whole potlical game is. She knows that I am quite skeptical of Obama and his sort of ‘Slick Willy’ style of campaigning. It sounds nice through the ads I saw while Oregon endured its primary; he had a way that was much less negative than the others. One reason I voted for Tom Potter was because he refused to run a negative campaign. So, Obama’s endurance to turn the tide on our new norm is certainly hopeful. But, on the other hand, it all seems very well crafted, like it is too crafted, and it makes me worried.

Several years ago I was introduced to a different type of political spectrum that measured beliefs on two axes instead of one. It held our traditional ‘right vs. left’ approach, but it also measured an axes of ‘authoritarian’ and ‘libertarian’ views. After taking their sixty question test, it becomes clear that I lie in the green quadrant as shown above, or the ‘Social-Libertarian’ quadrant. I believe laws are necessary to keep institutions like corporations in check, but I also believe it is very important to keep civil and personal liberties as completely free as possible. I believe we need to uphold the 2nd Amendment, for example, in what I deem to be its purest sense: All [persons] shall have the right to bear arms. One of my fears is a police state and one check against that is ensuring citizens a constitutional right to fight back. But, I also don’t believe we should be fighting other people’s wars. I also believe that we need to hold the environment in much higher esteem than we do. This Political Compass organization, out of the U.K., was kind enough to map our presidential candidates views. Based on their tally, I should be voting for Nader or Kucinich. Obama and Hillary are far to right for my line of thinking, and McCain is of course way out there compared to where I lie.

My husband thinks my vote is already postmarked for Obama. I told him that my decision won’t be made up until Election Day. That said, I finally listened to the race speech. I was able to pull out some of the things I found most interesting, and they are bulleted below, followed by an embedded copy of the speech.

I sincerely appreciate that Obama recognizes, clearly, that both sides (black and white) have wrongs that have been dealt them, and these wrongs must be dealt with and recognized if we are to move on. It’s almost as if he’s quoting a chapter from Community Development 101. You have to recognize the anger in a community situation and give it a place to be recognized by the community before you can honestly progress with change.

If we must change slowly, maybe Obama addressing equity is the best way. But, I still hope for a systematic approach to fixing our problems. And, if we are to utilize a systematic approach, only addressing equity is far too short-sided for my tastes. I still believe it is naive to think Obama will save us, and I find it very annoying that some people really do believe that, at least as demonstrated by the t-shirts and rallies. Every time I see a crowd from a filmed speech of his, I think back to Julius Caesar and the part in the play when Marc Anthony sways the crowd who was roaring for Brutus moments before when Brutus defended why he killed Caesar and Marc Anthony now says it was treason. When I see those crowds, I cannot help but think of what Mr. Cardwell in 10th grade English wrote on the board, “The Masses are Asses.”

Maybe my fears are misplaced, I can 0nly hope so. Again, here are some pieces of his speech I found most intriguing followed by the speech as pulled from YouTube.

  • “The most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning.”
  • “The anger is real… to condemn it without understanding its roots only widens the chasm.”
  • “The white experience [is often] the immigrant experience… built from scratch… jobs shipped oversees… anxious about their futures.”
  • “Opportunity a zero sum game, your dreams at my expense.”
  • “The real culprit? The corporate culture.”
  • “Must recognize anger and resentment is grounded in legitimate concerns.”
  • “For the African American community, it means embracing the past without becoming victims of the past.”
  • “It means taking full responsibility for our own lives.”
  • [Golden Rule]
  • “Let us be our brothers keeper. Let us be our sisters keeper.”
  • [Distractions in politics.]