Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama's Race Speech

This looks interesting:
Far from putting the controversial issue of race behind him, Barack Obama has decided to address the issue head on in a speech Tuesday.

"I am going to be talking not just about Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign — which has ramped up over the last couple of weeks," Obama told reporters in Monaca, Pennsylvania.

Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod characterized the speech, to be delivered in Philadelphia, as "a discussion on race and politics."

It'll be interesting to see which direction he goes with this. The momentum, obviously, towards going even more aggressively post-racial. Obama remains well positioned to do this, and it's the politically safe choice given the continued fallout from his affiliation with Rev. Wright.

But -- while I think it's important for Obama to sound themes of racial reconciliation, and I have no doubt he will -- I hope he displays enough political courage to remind (White) American voters that race is not a non-issue in America, that significant gaps still exist between our ideals and our reality, and that it does nobody any favors to simply slide on past the continued effects of racism in the American polity. If he manages to say that, without antagonizing a primarily White audience, it would be an impressive display even for someone blessed with Obama's considerable political gifts.

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