Barack Obama ’08

It has been a little over a week since Barack Obama’s speech on race in America. I watched the speech while I was at an Academic Advising conference in Vancouver, BC. It feels like a moment that I will remember for a very long time. It’s similar to the Challenger accident or the events that transpired on September 11, 2001. This was a monumental day in American history.

  • I was in Cotter, Iowa at Cotter Elementary when the Challenger exploded.
  • I sat in front of a tv at my apartment in Oak Park, Illinois on 9/11.
  • I watched Barack Obama’s historic and moving speech in a hotel in downtown Vancouver.

These are three events that will always remain in my memory. I’ve watched this speech several times and it’s not perfect, but it’s the most honest speech on race in the United States that I have ever watched.

This is the first time that I can recall a politician talking about race, racism, and white privilege in such a real and direct way… Here are a couple of my favorite parts of this speech.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

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.

Complete text of “A More Perfect Union

PS: Barack Obama was in Corvallis, Oregon last week. I was only a few blocks away…bummer!
Barack Obama was also in Medford, Oregon last week. If only I had taken the Medford exit on our way to Ashland!

PPS: Consider this the official endorsement for Barack Obama. I voted for Barack Obama when he was running for senator in Illinois and I am ready to vote for him again.

PPPS: This is definitely my favorite item on the web store on Obama’s web site: “Republicans for Obama
Republicans are voting for Barack Obama and you should too

  • FinanceBuzz

    How sad that you group two of the most impactful tragedies in the American conciousness with a speech made for poltical expediency. What valid points Obama may have had in his speech were lost in the disingenuousness of the moment as a politician, despite portrayals to the contrary, attempted to distance himself from radical views only when “caught.” This speech may have carried some lasting meaning had it been done from the heart and not as an act of political maneuvering.

    This is a shame as it was hopeful for America that Obama was a presidential candidate who happened to be a black man as opposed to a black man who was a presidential candidate. Now as we learn about the views of two people very close to him – his wife and his pastor – we have need to question what really is Obama’s views on race relations. To paraphrase Sen. Zell Miller from his speech at the 2004 GOP convention, Obama’s views over the years are far more relevant than a speech made in the heat of controversy in the midst of a presidential campaign.

  • Derek, I’m going to go ahead and suggest that you shouldn’t tax your giant brain overly much about what Obama said – those white supremacist branded blinders I can see from here pretty much guarantee that you’ll be unable to take anything Obama says seriously regardless of what it is.

    Also, do you get those talking points emailed to you on a daily basis, or did you opt for the weekly digest?

  • FinanceBuzz

    Here’s an idea, Dennis. Rather making an unfounded and ignorant slur against me while not addressing a single point I made, how about countering what I said. I love how the left makes a beeline to a personal attack the second someone does agree with them. So, care to try again and this time offer some substance? Looks like you might need some talking points if you cannot do better than that.

  • Ha!

    I deserved that one, I guess.

    Derek, for future reference, please do not get mad at me for making “unfounded slurs” in one sentence only to brand the entire “left” (whatever that is) in the next based on a single comment I made, especially when I don’t even identify as being part of this mysterious “left” you speak of.

    It creates an unfortunate dissonance, to put it mildly. Your second sentence would have stood very well on its own.

    And I am not addressing the content of your initial comment because I think it’s complete crap. It misses the point. It had nothing new to add to the conversation. It makes problematic assumptions. It reads like it was cribbed from an RNC memo. Iit gets the speech wrong. And it sullies an otherwise nice post.

    I reserve the right to address things I personally find worth addressing and/or interesting. I’m some dude on the internet, Derek – just because I refuse to take some of your comments seriously doesn’t mean anything but that I refuse to take some of your comments seriously. It certainly doesn’t mean you won some sort of victory. (I’m not “the left,” remember?)