Friday, April 25, 2008

Race in America and Barack Obama

Yesterday, Andrew posted a letter regarding the racial mess this campaign has shown us. As they say, read the whole thing.

I'd say a couple things though. One problem is Obama's admitted closeness with Jeremiah Wright. If he were just his pastor (former), I'm not sure of the resonance this all has. But we know he has called Wright his "spiritual adviser." I suppose folks cannot be blamed for wondering about this.

Is race playing a role? I think so, but it is hard to quantify, since people can, rightfully, claim concern over his closeness to the man.

Where, in my view, race plays a role is with folks who believe that Obama really believes in the nutty statements of Wright. There is NOTHING in his life or legislative experience to suggest ANY of this. Ah, but he's a Manchurian Candidate, who will just screw whitey once in office!! Quite the actor he is, for decades that is.

But the resonance of this view likely goes back, I suspect, to forced busing, affirmative action, the rise of urban crime, welfare, etc., all situations where white Americans feel that they were/are being taken advantage of/pushed aside by black Americans. It is a sense that many black Americans just want everything to themselves.

Putting a value judgment on that sentiment is counterproductive. I would suggest that being black is still, in most cases, a disadvantage (though much, much better than 50 yrs. ago), but a view like this is a very emotional view. Furthermore, there are legitimate, verifiable grievances involved too. So, you can't just tell someone they're wrong here.

All of which is a long way of saying that Wright triggered, for some, the fear of a liberal black man taking more from them. How do you confront this? Specifically, I dunno, other than to say "head on." Fears, from all sides, don't go away by ignoring them. Only by working through them can we move forward.

Finally, it is a matter of degree. Were it just Wright, then I'd have no problem. But the other racial stuff, along with fears that Obama hates America, prove conservatives wrong: Race STILL matters. To act like we are all colorblind is the height of foolishness.


A 20-something white guy.

No comments: