Once again Barack Obama has risen above the bar and accomplished an amazing feat. It wasn’t enough that he was able to out-perform every other national candidate he ran against for the presidency-twice. Or that he won a Nobel Peace prize for “extraordinary effort to strength international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” Or that against all odds and with continuous resistance from the right that he was able to successfully pass a national health-care bill. Now he has exposed the ugly underside of America’s racist soul and openly discussed his own experience of racism in America.
I don’t understand all aspects of the racial issue. I grew up in New York State, moved to Florida while still in high school and witnessed our Gainesville High classes “desegregated” during the last few months of the school year (1970) by federal court order. The African- American students in our city had their school closed down and were forced to attend ours. Many students were unhappy, Dixie flags were raised and violence broke out. Racial equality was still a distant future dream.
Friday July 19th, Obama described on national television what a black man encounters in America and we have to believe it’s true. I’ve seen gross racial injustice in Florida on more than one occasion and know it is true. Watching him speak on Friday was painful, and in some ways I am ashamed of our heritage and the manner in which we have arrived where we are today. Even nine months ago certain elements within a southern state were petitioning to secede from the union because Obama was re-elected. You can find racist comments (many directed at Obama) all over the Web. What is the matter with humans? More to the point, Americans? Shouldn’t the family of an African- American boy have the same right to expect that their son will be safe when he goes out as any other American? There are a great many nuances to the case against Zimmerman which I choose not to get into but I hope for a time when all children ( and all people) are safe from racism, gun violence, and laws which presuppose their guilt ( stand your ground laws).
For any person who is slightly conscious, Obama’s words should make them think about their personal role in our country’s promise to uphold the concept of equality for all citizens under the constitution. The constitution being the United States Constitution, that pact which gives us our freedoms and prescribes our role as citizens. It is only a piece of aging parchment if we don’t strive and grow and improve ourselves to meet the ideals set forth in that venerable document.
I suppose I understand racism as one human’s inability to acknowledge that the rights they enjoy should extend to all others within their community, their country. I own my own business and I am exposed to all types of people. Some clients think they should get more service than I offer or that they should get their service for free. Thank God we have laws to protect us from people who think they are “special” and more deserving than all others, those who can’t see past their own doorstep to experience the wider world. I think we all deserve the same equality under the law; in the courts, in the workplace, in our homes and communities and someday in our thoughts for each other. And I thank Obama for opening a festering wound that needs light and airing to begin to heal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Nobel_Peace_Prize, cited July 20, 2013