Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's search for a 'More Perfect Union'

Wassup, Y'all!

It all had to be said. It should have been said this loudly and this publicly well before now and by a northside president or presidential candidate who should have recognized the national need for such words. But it was Smooth Barack that stepped in - admittedly sooner than he expected - knowing that at some point in his campaign he'd be doing exactly what he did yesterday - saying what needed to be said about the state of race relations in America (if you're one of the few that missed Smooth's 'A More Perfect Union' speech you can read the text here and see the video here).

Few can deny that it was a presidential moment - under enormous pressure and huge expectations from all corners he stepped up and calmly broke down the actual factuals, doling out something for everyone to think about. I'm at a loss to think of any similar seminal event occurring during an election season which tells me that this one is more important than ever...

In a follow up interview on Nightline last night (which finished up this morning on Good Morning America - no, y'all, I ain't been gettin' any sleep!), Smooth continued to break things down. When pressed by ABC commentator Terry Moran about how he would feel if he were in a church where someone was preaching White Supremacy, Smooth called him on it and said that was not a correct comparison. Rev. J-Wright was speaking out (in inflammatory terms) on white racism and that no one in the church was ever espousing the view of black superiority.

Smooth went on to point out two further examples that highlight the racial rift among southsiders and northsiders. The first was illustrated by the polar opposite reaction to the OJ Simpson verdict. He said, 'I was ashamed for my own community to respond in that way, but I also understood what was taking place, which was that reaction had more to do with a sense that somehow the criminal justice system historically had been biased so profoundly that a defeat of that justice system was somehow a victory' He prefaced that by saying he though OJ was guilty (just like ol Ty).

The second example was southside/northside reaction to high profile crime. He noted that when southsiders hear the details about a high profile crime, they're always nervous and hopeful that when a picture is shown of the culprit that he doesn't turn out to be black. The reasoning is that southsiders are conditioned to think that we all get painted by a broad brush and that folks are quick to associate those actions to the race vs. the individual. He told Moran that he (as a northsider) would never feel similar nervousness because those general associations tend not to get made.

Yesterday, for a brief time, I believe I got to feel what my parents felt when they were huddled around their radios back in the day (as I listened to the speech on the radio in the hoopty) feeling pride over the defeat of Max Schmeling by Joe Louis or more significantly at the speeches Martin Luther King, Jr. was making around the country - saying things that needed to be said, pointing to the ideals of this country and challenging everyone to put their money where their mouths were. But more than just feeling pride for the moment, appreciation of the thoughtfulness of the words and admiration of Smooth's courage under fire, my overwhelming feeling at the end of the speech was hope (as corny as that sounds, y'all).

If Smooth can actually pull this thing off, I have to believe that the country will have truly moved forward and finally jump started the process of making the nation 'a more perfect Union'.



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