Once again, Barack Obama has left me struggling for words..
In his intensely personal and moving speech in Philadelphia. I saw glimpses of my own life. With white and black family members and a white husband I too have often been intimately exposed to what one group ‘really thinks’ about the other especially when members of that group thinks the setting is ‘safe’ to discuss race without ridicule or prejudice.
Today in his speech Obama gave voice to almost every grievance whites and blacks have had with each other since the end of slavery. And he talked about these issues without vigorously wagging the finger at either group. He said racism isn’t dead but it shouldn’t and doesn’t have to limit blacks like it once did.
He talked about the ridiculous comments of Rev.Wright in one paragraph yet in another he talked about his loyalty to the man, his work, the service and general goodness of the man Jeremiah Wright.
He talked about welfare and affirmative action and the grievances white America, in particular those in the middle class and low income white community have in regards to those two issues.
He talked about the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws and its lasting impact on the black community.
He talked about confronting our past demons in order to face the ones that are upon us today and will undoubtedly arise tomorrow.
He talked about our common hopes and dreams for the future and about working together to achieve a long lasting impact on our community, on our nation and on the world.
He talked with eloquence, grace, humility and strength.
He talked about what has shaped our current and what shouldn’t be allowed to shape our future.
He addressed every issue that has arisen since the Ferraro comment and Wright video and he did it without blame and without anger.
In so doing he has stimulated a productive discussion about race and class, that can now begin around the watercoolers and dinner tables of America. And hopefully from these conversations minds and hearts will change, solutions and productive plans will be advanced to not only confront the lasting legacy of racism but also our common ills including poverty and unaffordable medicine and medical coverage.
And hopefully by talking frankly and calmly about race we can slowly march towards an America that truly embraces the candidacy of Barack Obama thus making sure that in the future the issue of race will no longer be a cause of trepidation among any significant group of Americans.
Obama has shown that he CAN and WILL lead this movement this coalition of unlikely allies towards a new America where all people and all stories can retain their uniqueness but yet at the same time remain grounded in the commonality of our pursuit and fulfillment of the American dream.