Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big Thang's Poppin': Obama's Speech on Race

Wassup, Y'all!

So here we are. Little more than a year since Smooth Barack announced his candidacy for President on a chilly day in Springfield, IL, the time we (southsiders) knew would arrive is finally upon us. It's time for the 'race discussion' and Smooth is preparing to deliver on this in a major speech in my original hometown, Philadelphia, PA.

The location is altogether fitting since it was in Philadelphia that the country was founded and built on a set of high minded ideals that would initially only apply to one set of citizens (northsiders) and not another (southsiders). This was the origin of the racial experience rift I outlined in my The (Jeremiah) Wright Stuff? post...

It's a rift that made the 'black church' necessary. It's a rift that made 'black colleges' necessary. It's a rift that made 'Affirmative Action' necessary. It's a rift that kept southsiders and northsiders segregated into 'sides' - a phenomenon that still occurs to this day in many states, cities and towns and which still perpetuates a reciprocal suspicion that the other side is 'out to get us', 'up to no good', 'is all about self' and 'can't really be trusted'. All these feelings are understandable since they all come from ignorance and hopefully today, Smooth can begin to 'lift the veil of ignorance' from all sides when it comes to understanding where the other side is coming from.

When his campaign began, southsiders harbored no illusions as to how difficult it would be for a black man (since the 'One Drop' rule automatically makes Smooth black despite being 50% white) to win the Presidency in such a racially retarded country. That's a crack on all sides, y'all - don't get it twisted. Many of us seem to be happier divided into our camps of comfort and building our perceptions of others merely by anecdotal observation verse real person-to-person interaction. Walkin' a mile in another person's shoes takes too much effort - and why bother when you can take a virtual walk by watchin' TV or readin' someone else's words about who that person is? Ask yourself this - how can you judge the content of someone's character without gettin' to know them?

Here's the one thing I do know about all this - we've been a country now for nearly 232 years - since the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in a hall just a stones throw from where Smooth will be speaking today - and race is still an issue. Somehow, I have to believe that a presidential candidate who is half black and half white can do more to start movin' us past this ridiculousness than the other candidates who have no such racial investment. The bigger question is: 'Do we really want to move past this ridiculousness?' Given the tenor of the rhetoric flyin' around these days, my sense is 'no', but the glossy to the right illustrates just why we need to. Either we're the United States or not. United States - just words?

Hopefully today, Smooth will give all sides something to think about....



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