I'm sitting here listening to the YouTube replay of Barak Obama's speech on race. Finally, an honest, reasonable dialogue about race may be able to come out of the private kitchens and the occasional classroom and be aired in the public square.
I wrote in my journal a couple of years ago that I am starved for an honest, open discussion about race, not just among my liberal mostly white friends, but openly, at work, on the street, in politics. I think Obama has begun that discussion in the political arena.
I think that when Geraldine Ferraro made her comment about Obama being where he is because he is black, she may have been trying to make a clumsy attempt to start that dialogue, but she said it out of ignorance of the struggles of being black in America today. She made the mistake of buying into the anti-affirmative action faction that seems to think that the only value that a black person or a woman can bring to the table is in their status as a "token" in whatever circle of power that they belong. I don't believe that she made her comment out of hatred, just out of her blindness of the value of Obama as an individual, regardless of race. When you think about it, that is pretty sad, because that leads me to think that the only value she sees in herself is that she was the token woman on a past presidential ticket, almost like she didn't count, only her gender did- as a trick to try to win the female vote back in the day. That saddens me. It also concerns me that she was working on the campaign of another strong, capable woman, Hillary Clinton. Does that mean that she is only supporting Clinton on the basis of the principle of her being a (token) woman? I have to wonder if Ferraro believes in the possibility of either of these two strong people to ever run the White House and promote change for the better.
After all, "tokens" aren't the real thing, they are only fake quarters that you put in the slot machine and you lose over and over and over again.
No matter who you decide to support, do so proudly and with confidence that your candidate is the right person for the job, not just because they fill some quota...black man (check)....white woman (check)...white man (check).
As a Democrat in Michigan, I know that my vote doesn't count in this primary election. (Did I mention that I didn't vote in our primary because I felt that I had been cheated of casting a real vote here, since most of my options had been removed from the ballot?) However, for what it is worth, I believe that I have made my choice today. Just a couple of minutes ago as I was listening to Obama's speech.
I choose Obama.
Whether he gets the presidency or not, whether he even gets the nomination or not, I believe that his speech is a historic, groundbreaking moment in our history.
This is a time when many white people don't believe that racism exists, or that they reap no personal benefits from our hisory of slavery, yet our whole economic system originated with the buying and selling of dark human flesh. This is a time when young people take it for granted that their schools are integrated, yet if they look around their classrooms, the majority of the students share their same skin color and that, not surprisingly, if they are brown, their textbooks are older, their computers are slower and their teachers are inexperienced and if they are white, likely they have experienced educators and full classroom sets of needed books. This is a time when Michigan's voters (probably mostly white for that election) decided to abolish any and all traces of affirmative action for women and girls of all colors and for men of color because they were afraid that the job at McDonald's that they have been aspiring to has been taken by someone with brown skin and that someone with brown skin or no penis may be sitting in their college math class next to their blond blue-eyed son. This is a time when many anti-racist white people make the mistake of feeling guilty for being born with white skin. This is a time when "African American History" is somehow segregated in classrooms from "American History", when really, they are and should be taught as one and the same. (Yes, I have heard educated folk say that white people should not be hosting television programs which celebrate black history. You will have to leave a comment if you want to hear more about that rant.) This is a time that desperately needs an honest dialogue about race, because most of us (meaning white people) believe that the civil rights movement is over. That dialogue can now begin.
I invite you to check out Barak Obama's speech (you can listen or get it in written form, I'm doing both) and TALK ABOUT IT. Honestly.
Here is the web address where I found it: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords
In the sidebar, I am post an e-mail that I got from my dad a few days before the Patomic Primaries. He lives in Baltimore and as an almost 80 (yes, that is this year) year old white man, his insights are fresh on the political race (pun intended). He sent the e-mail to all of his grandchildren, me and I'm not sure who all else. Hope you enjoy it and take it to heart.