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Leadership

March 20, 2008

Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech (video, text) has begun to settle in on America’s collective self-conscience, over 4 million people watched the speech live and over 2 million have watched the speech on youtube. Obama’s speech personifies to me what it means to be a leader, what is means to be a visionary and what it means to be President of the United States.

More specifically, what the speech exemplified was not his repudiation of Rev. Wright’s remarks, not his explanation for the hurt felt by blacks and not his explanation for the resentment felt by whites; it was Obama’s call for Americans to open a constructive discussion about race. This discussion is needed to begin to heal the wounds of the past with a hope for the future.
Obama said:

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

He added later:

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

More than just marching orders, Obama has asked Americans to step outside our comfort zones, have discussions with people that don’t look or act the same as we do and try to come to a new understanding between the races. The New York Times on Thursday published an article, Groups Respond to Obama’s Call for National Discussion About Race, which reports about people in churches, synagogues and colleges who are beginning to look at race relations from our 21st century vantage-point.

Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of a mostly white evangelical church of about 12,000 in Central Florida said in the article, “It calls out of you what is already in you.” Amen, brother. Even Bill O’Reilly said that race remains an unresolved problem in America on both sides.

As the Rev. Troy Benton of Stone Mountain, Georgia said in the article, “I don’t see how you can be an African-American preacher and not try to figure out how to have something to say this Sunday, even though it’s Easter.”

Obama is not asking for you and me to be different than we already are, he is asking for us to take from our experiences, learn from others and journey to a new place with fresh understanding.

True enough, we will always have are nabobs of negativity like Anne Coulter who wrote this week, “Obama gave a nice speech, except for everything he said about race. He apparently believes we’re not talking enough about race. This is like hearing Britney Spears say we’re not talking enough about pop-tarts with substance-abuse problems.” Granted, she is trying to be funny (the way Carlos Mencea is not funny), but her point of view is just as destructive as Farrakhan’s or any other black or white racist. It is people like her, a distinct minority, that will be left in the margins of history.

If elected Obama will not be able to get all his programs in place, nor should he. But that is not important for the future of this country.

What is of importance is to have a leader who extracts the best out Americans to make our country a better place for our children and our grandchildren; a leader who inspires us to make this country a beacon of liberty and freedom once again; in short, a leader who demands of us by asking us  and inspiring us to continue the grand democratic experiment we call the United States of America.

That’s why I support Barack Obama to become the next President of the United States.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2008 8:56 am

    That quote from Ann Coulter shows how ignorant she really is. Bitching about race is not the same as discussing it. When someone makes a racial slur and someone else flies off the handle in reaction, this makes no move towards getting the issue solved.

    What Obama suggests is rational discussion about race, a fact that Coulter (as with any reasonable point) sees fit to ignore.

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