Obama’s campaign has so far tried to ignore race, but in the past couple of weeks supporters of both Hillary and Obama injected it into the campaign. But his speech has far superseded a summary of black history, or him distancing himself from blacks. He transcended mere hues and instead showed that all of us middle class, lower class, and even the rich liberals should not let the few selfish divide us with the same petty sidetracks.
On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Without alienating his pastor he condemned the mans remarks without condemning the man, which shows his campaign can even reach out to the person, without endorsing their ideas. He even seemed to condemn the harsh reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s racial comments, “We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction.”
He also finally challenged some of those comments that he wasn’t black enough:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
It was really an amazing speech that didn’t play the race card, and hopefully didn’t further alienate anyone from his campaign. You can read the entire transcript at his website.