Mark Winston Griffith
The One We’ve Been Waiting For: Obama on Race
Two days ago Barack Obama held the most sophisticated, mature, frank and insightful discussion of race offered by a politician in recent memory. It provided a historical context for Black (and white) anger, confronted the present-day circus passing for political debate, and presented a coherent vision of social change.
Unless you’re watching the Daily Show, don’t try to form any opinion on his remarks based on coverage by CNN, Fox or any of those other poor excuses for news. Read the speech, listen to it or watch in its entirety. Form your own opinion.
I have had a critique of Obama's position on the issues in the past. But what he displayed on Tuesday eclipses my concerns and demonstrated to me how much this nation needs him. It was a remarkably convincing example of the importance of words and how they can be used to elevate public discourse, rather than debase it and dumb it down. Furthermore, he showed more leadership, intelligence and understanding of America's soul in an hour than George Bush has shown in all his eight years in office put together.
To think of it in other terms, imagine if Hillary Clinton delivered a landmark searing critique of sexism and gender politics.
Imagine if Mitt Romney gave a sophisticated analysis of the way religion is exploited in American political discourse while presenting an honest and compelling case for faith-based politics.
Imagine if John McCain condemned jingoism while offering a sincere and stirring exploration of patriotism that even die-hard critics of American foreign policy could appreciate.
Barack did so much more than answer all those who have been parading images of Reverend Wright around like he was a modern day Willie Horton. Barack courageously told white folks that the stuff that Pastor Wright talks about is rooted in real pain and oppression. At the same time, he acknowledged resentment towards affirmative action and told Black folks that while it is expedient to retreat to a condemnation of white people and America, it can come at the expense of our own humanity and socio-political evolution.
There are a lot of issues to consider this political season. But if Barack loses the nomination or the general election because of the so-called Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy, make no mistake about it, it will be America's failure, one of historic and tragic proportions, not Obama’s.