Race Talk in America

Black hand and white hand prayingThis is part of the bi-weekly Black on Black Thought feature.

What’s up fam,

I am happy to kick off Black on Black Thought. This week, James wrote about CNN’s Black in America special (that will highlight life in Black America in all its complexity) and considers whether or not this series will over saturate America with “race talk” and its possible impact on the 2008 election. James basic conclusion is that we are reaching a saturation point in our “race-talk.” I think we are far from the point of saturation.

James’ article kicks off with a basic premise that America is not ready for a meaningful dialogue on race and to this end, I think he is right especially given the mistaken notion that we are living in a post-racial society and the willful ignorance of addressing the historical significance of Indian removal policy, slavery and Jim Crow (and others) as institutional wrongs whose impacts can be felt today

James goes on to question “whether America isn’t “done” with race for the moment, and whether re-engaging a dialogue on race won’t hurt race relations — but also the Obama candidacy — in the end.

I will address the aforementioned shortly but James supports his argument by stating that “By November we will have had the Wright/Pfleger controversy; Obama’s speech on race; questions about Obama’s patriotism; stories about white Americans who believe Obama represents a “change” too great; discussed Black Liberation theology; and will have “learned about what it’s like to be Black in America — and then be expected to vote for a black man in the poll booth.

If I could sum up James’ article it would be that America is getting tired of talking about race and this may have the impact of hurting race relations and damaging Obama’s chance of victory in November. However, if we are really honest with ourselves, it’s not that Americans are not tired of talking about race, they are just really annoyed and upset when it comes up.

To help illustrate my point, consider this, all of the major news outlets embark on a two-week campaign highlighting the need for Americans to give of their time and money to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. For clarification, imagine that this coverage is replete with graphic images and harrowing stories and intensity comparable to MSNBC’s coverage Tim Russert, whose passing moved me deeply and inspired me to cherish my family more. Now do you think Americans would a) Respectfully engage this campaign by watching/listening to this coverage and give of their time and money or b) Occasionally watch the coverage and before the end of the first week, start to think to themselves and become vocal in saying “OK, I get it. Katrina was bad but can we please change the subject now?” I suspect that the answer would be b) because people aren’t tired, they are really annoyed and upset.

For any remaining moral purists, tell me how long it takes for you to click away from television specials that highlight the need for giving aid to starving African children?

So if we are at a place where we can’t even mount sustainable campaigns where people have to give of their time and money for extremely worthy causes, how can we get people moved to do a far less taxing activity such as having a “race-talk.” As for Obama’s candidacy, I think his “race-talk” will be beneficial in comparison to the extent that the majority of Americans are not annoyed or angered. And in my opinion, if Americans are over saturated with anything, it is thinking that it is inherently unfair to correct this country’s original sin through public policy along with a severe lack of empathy for those less fortunate and/or different.

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5 responses to “Race Talk in America”

  1. Garlin II says :

    See James’ intro to Black on Black Thought and specific response to this post here.

  2. Karmi says :

    Karmi here…saw Garlin’s post at the JJP blog, and followed his provided link to here. Just checking out y’all great site, and found this post…hope you don’t mind a W/M responding to it. You can delete it if you do. 😉

    Great article, in the W-TIMES (good), by James Dickson, and equally great response to it by Brandon. Good points by both, and I agree with most of them.

    The Race issue is clearly ‘on-the-table’, thanks mainly to Wright, TUCC, Pfleger, Obama’s 20 year connection with them, and especially the *Black Liberation Theology*. Many white Americans were shocked to find out what *Black Liberation Theology* is actually about. Sure, most had put black hatred under the Jesse’s and Al’s types, but to find out that it was being taught in black churches, suggested that black hatred of “White America” ran much deeper than previously thought.

    Then came Obama’s “Father’s Day” speech, followed by Jesse with his – “cut off his nuts” routine, and the use of the N-Word. Toss in Whoopi’s rampage the other day, in which she basically claimed that blacks owned the N-Word, and could use it in any way that they wanted to. Yes, the race issue is clearly on the table.

    Obama arrived on the scene as an unknown. At first people wondered if he was a Muslim…he did have a Muslim sounding name, had Muslims advisors, Muslims on his staff, and Muslim relatives. Then the Ayers/Dohrn connection came out about the same time as the Rezko connection. Obama didn’t wear the flag pin. Naturally, Obama’s patriotism was then questioned.

    Getting long here, and will cut it short. Nice to see the term African-American not being ‘overly’ used in the article and response (fact is, I don’t recall seeing it at all). Many still want to know why Obama spent 20 years in a church that taught the *Black Liberation Theology*. Why his connections with Islam and Farrakhan, i.e. through his staff and advisors. Then there are the questions about his long-term relationships with Ayers/Dohrn and Tony Rezko.

  3. Christine says :

    Does anyone know the photographer for this picture with the hands? I’d like to get a copy.
    Thanks!

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