Race In America: Who Are We Really?

The one thing that Barack Obama and his controversial Spiritual mentor have taught us is that race is still the millstone around our collective necks that continues to divide us as a nation and a community.  It is a subject that lies ever so slightly beneath the American landscape.

   It was refreshing for me to hear Obama tackle the issue in an objective attempt to put the subject in perspective.  Sadly, his effort falls short when compared to the harsh style and hateful tone coming from his former minister.  

   Unfortunately, most people will not remember the collegial, reasonable and enlightened speech by Obama. That is a shame because we will miss a great opportunity to have a positive discussion about race in our country.  On a personal level, a lot of us are confused about how race affects us, consciously and subconsciously.    For example, the fact that many of us have mixed ancestry is still a secret.  I was 53 years old when I learned that my father’s dad was Irish.  I found out while attending my father’s funeral in St. Louis, Mo three years ago.  While at my dad’s youngest brother’s home, I stumbled upon an old family album.  Just last week a close friend revealed that his mother disclosed that his great grand father married an African American woman.  He says she told him this in confidence because she did not know how his sisters would feel about it.

  I submit that collectively we are simply people drawn together under a unique circumstance and we need to embrace that with a healthy conversation about what that means.  What do you think?

-Norman Robinson

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6 Comments

  1. Norman, I respect you as both a fine journalist and better yet, a fine man. An honorable man of color.
    You are right in your contention that there should be a national dialogue on race. But it must be conducted in a dialogue free of hate speech. Therefore, Mr Obama’s chance to do so, is gone. Mr Obama’s public life will now be defined by his attachment to his pastor and his hatred of all things not African American. There is no way to avoid that now. If Mr. Obama is sincere, he needs to come out and publicly scorn and disavow any of Rev Wright’s statements. That sort of speech is no different than any of David Duke’s rantings. And we all know where that got him.

    Mr. Obama is unelectable until he takes such steps. Then, maybe the diallogue can begin.

    E. D
    Covington, La.

  2. I believe the vast majority of peope would like to improve race relations. It is difficult to have a dialog when there is so much emotion involved.

    I see two major barriers to racial improvement in our society. The first is poverty. Everytime we compare black vs. white the difference is counfounded by poverty. We are comparing poor vs. rich as much as black vs. white. If we compared wealthy blacks to wealthy whites (or poor blacks to poor whites), the differences would be much smaller. But that doesn’t sell newspapers (or TV ads.)

    The second barrier is victimology. The majority of black leaders (Obama’s pastor is an extreme example) preach that blacks are victims of opression. And therefore they are owed something from the government. Bill Cosby is an exception. If a black person believes this then they may believe they are second class and not capable of success. Opressed or not, the message show be one of personal commitment and hard work as a means to achieve success.

  3. The black people as a whole are the first to holler that the white people are prejudice, however the white race has never been as prejudice as the black race is now. The black race wants everything for nothing as they believe that it is owed to them. Well every race has been slaves at one time or another throughout history. What happen 400 years ago is history study it learn about it and live with it.

  4. Louis, you have got it so wrong. We want nothing for free, but we do want the people in power (white folks) to acknowledge the lasting effects of Jim Crow as a systematic barrier to change. It’s not always as black and white as personal commitment and hard work. We cannot ever have a meaningful discussion about race if we do not acknowledge that discriminatory practices have led to our current situation i.e. segregated schools, gentrification, discriminatory lending, etc. In order to ever change that, a few things must happen (and I’ll keep it in terms of black and white): 1) black folks must remain empowered to take more personal responsibility (which requires a basic belief that the current state of things can change), 2) black folks must build alliances with the people in power in order to enact any changes to the socioeconomic climate, and 3) white folks must be willing to meet us halfway and take action. This requires that both black folks and white folks acknowledge AND agree to work beyond each other’s anger, and this is where I lose hope. It’s comments like yours, Mr. Molinary, that illustrate why. If all you see is black folks complaining about things that happened 400 years ago without taking into consideration that some of these things might still be going on or how those same discriminatory practices have shaped the current American socioeconomic landscape, then how will we ever make progress? This was a key point in Mr. Obama’s speech.

    I will submit the words of Smokey Robinson from his poem “A Black American”: “We’re a parade of every shade, and in this late day and age you can be sure, there ain’t too many of us in this country whose bloodline is pure.” So, I agree with what you are saying Mr. Robinson. Still, given the state of race relations, we will always be lumped into a group based on the pigment of our skin (white, black, etc.). I wonder what would happen if more people knew their ancestry. I’d like to think that this would unite us under that pretext, but I’m not so optimistic.

  5. For 45 years, America has allowed the black community to set the rules and define the race issue. Never mentioned is the inbred hatred of all things white, by those blacks who have bought into Jackson’s and Sharpton’s vision of blacks as oppressed victims. Never mentioned, until now, are the virulent, anti-American feelings harbored by those blacks that ascribe to ‘black liberation theology.’ (That’s the stuff Obama’s minister preaches.) Based on recent polls, it appears a whopping 20 to 30% of black Americans just don’t like whitey. It appears this, also, has been inbred.

    Not mentioned are the views of Americans who don’t buy into the never-ending grievance mantra of authentic blacks. We call these people, inauthentic whites and inauthentic blacks. (That’s liberal-speak for ‘conservative.’) I am one of them.

    Myself, and millions of other Americans, are not allowed to discuss race in America. The threat of being branded racist carries real life consequences many of us cannot afford, like keeping our jobs, friends, social standing and reputations. We always lower our voices when mentioning race, we go out of our way to prove how non-racist we are, and we’re forced to stand by and let racial hucksters and demagogues define what is in our hearts.

    Many of us are Christians who already know it is wrong to judge someone based on the color of their skin. We wish the Reverend White’s of this world would start preaching that to their congregations. It would also be nice to have an honest conversation on race instead of this continuing, unchallenged monologue. That won’t happen anytime soon because it would be construed as damaging the self-esteem of some oversensitive blacks. And we can’t have that.

    We dare not say that the decades long focus on boosting the self esteem of blacks has created destruction and mayhem, for both blacks and whites. We dare not say that self esteem, like respect, must be earned by the individual, not granted by government fiat. We dare not demand accountability, assimilation and, well, just plain good manners, from authentic blacks. And we for darn sure can’t expect a simple thank-you, in recognition of decades of special preferences and programs paid for with our tax dollars. Money we willingly spent to atone for the sins of our forebears.

  6. Wow. I didnt’ realize that Pat Buchanan was commenting on blogs under the alias Darrell above.


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