19 March 2008

No Puppet

After listening to the speech Barack Obama gave on Tuesday for the second time tonight, I feel the need to say something, even though, in the wake of the masterfully crafted speech that this presidential candidate ostensibly wrote himself, I am sure that whatever I write will come up far short of what he accomplished over the last few days.

To speak about race and America in the way that he did, with all that he has at stake, was simply beautiful. From the stark, even tempered delivery to the calming royal blue background to the massing of the American flags in the background, it all was calculated to add a large measure of gravitas to the words he spoke. His cadence was conversational rather than the halting declarative style we have come to associate with political speeches. His eyes were serious most of the time, a look that is not one the public is used to seeing grace his countenance.

The plain-spoken affirmations he made:

"I can no more disown him [Reverend Wright] than I can disown the black community."

"I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother"

"That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table."

"But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races."

"And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding."

"We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news."

direct, forthright, and without equivocation - this is no puppet, as so many black politicians have become, or some beige sensation who appropriates the exotic essence of the African American experience and ignores the rest, but a candidate who is firmly in charge of himself and his message.

The boldness of his rhetoric reminded me in many ways of a lot of the things I have written on this very board to you guys - but without the spotlight of a hundred TV feeds or the glare of a rabid press corps waiting to dissect my every word. As he proceeded to go on to describe white resentment to black anger, I felt that he was having the ultimate metaphorical conversation with the two halves of his own identity.

I don't know where this thing is going, but I am DELIGHTED to have such a capable and able representative of the darker slice of this American pie in the running to become the next president of these United States.

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