Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's speech

Maggie says:
That was a truly masterful speech by Obama. His instinct to tackle race head-on, to tackle the pastor "scandal" head-on, is exactly what is needed for political reasons. But his ability to see beyond politics - his recognizance of his own ability to inspire and bring people together - is what he rejuvenated in his campaign here. By being upfront about anger, rather than hinting about fear or glossing over the issue of race at all, he set himself apart from the way every other candidate has spoken about race in modern American politics. This speech is why so many new voters are coming out to the polls for him, why 20,000 people showed up at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, why his name on the ballot could mean everything come November, if he can make it. Obama offers the threads of a truly new beginning for our country, a way to heal, a way to start a new chapter where we can at least say that we are trying to do right by each other, finally. Here are some of the pieces that resonated with me the most:


Okay, scratch that. I started pasting passages and before long I had pasted nearly the entire thing here. Please read this speech. Obama is so poignant and of the moment here, capturing why race matters in this election, what race means to a man raised by a white grandmother from Kansas who found his black identity through the church, why not supporting Reverend Wright's comments is different than not supporting the man himself. He talks about the role of the church, especially to the black community, and the importance of anger being allowed there. He talks about the legacy of discrimination and how it plays out today in the everyday lives of African-Americans. He parallels that with the dissatisfaction of working class white Americans who have also been locked out of privilege. He talks about the way forward, how it's Americans of all races who are standing together in emergency room lines because they have no health insurance, who are together holding pink slips, who are together taking their kids to deteriorating schools. He talks about the responsibility we all share in giving this new chapter a time and place.

"In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

Read the entire speech or watch the video, really. I have chills.