Is it good for America to talk about race?

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama says race is an issue that America cannot ignore. Yesterday he made a speech that some would say was a political gamble, others believe he had little option. Obama sought to dispel the furore over inflammatory statements by his former pastor the Rev Jeremiah Wright, who criticised America for being racist and said the September the 11th attacks were revenge for American foreign policy.

Here’s the speech in full but if you’re pressed for time here’s a flavour of it:

“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.”

As the child of a black father and white mother, Obama said he understood the passions of both sides in what he called “a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years” – and said he was not so naive as to believe it could be overcome in one election cycle.

He went on to condemn many of Rev Wright’s political views as “not only wrong but divisive”, and he pointed out that the pastor had grown up at a time of racial segregation.

“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he said.

He recalled that his grandmother had raised him and loved him – but that at times she had used racially-tinged language or stereotypes that made him “cringe”.

So has America been tip toeing around the issue of race? Is the country now ready to tackle it head on? Is there an appetite for an open debate or will talking about race actually prove divisive? Would it better to ignore the issue altogether and hope it resolves itself? And can Barack Obama now avoid being seen as a black candidate, rather than a candidate who happens to be a black man? So many questions……

143 Responses to “Is it good for America to talk about race?”

  1. 1 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 13:43

    Sometimes I think it’s good to talk about it, but not dwell on it. There was once a time, not too long ago, where people were afraid to do anything to confront racist sentiments at work, for fear of being called a racist. Note, this story I’m about to tell has more to do with mental illness (in my opinion) than racism. Back in 1999, I was working at job in NYC. We had an older black lady that off the bat would sing songs that were, let’s say, were not PC. One of them, the lyrics went something like “Blue eyes, white devil” and virtually everyone in the room was white. Nobody said anything to her, though when not around, people discussed if we should say anything, and the consensus was that it would probably lead to some form of complaint, so we decided to let it pass, as it’s just words, and we’re adults and can handle a word. So it went on, for months, but then she started saying extreme things, and one day, out of the blue, she said “no wonder people bring in guns to work and shoot their coworkers”. Immediately HR was called and was immediately fired, and the building security was notified to absolutely make sure she was not allowed in. However, our fear of being called racist, or to do anything, could have turned out with tragic consequences had she acted before speaking. I’m still leaning on she was just more mentally ill than an outright racist. But anything to get people over their fears of discussing issues is a good thing, on a personal level and on a political level.

  2. 2 Brett
    March 19, 2008 at 13:45

    I think it’s healthy to talk about the problems and issues of race and racism. However, take a look at the MLK WHYS blog. It turned into a huge argument with finger pointing.

    It can be healthy in an open and mature forum, but without moderation it can quickly spiral out of control.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 Ana
    March 19, 2008 at 13:52

    I think it is a big problem in the US and increasingly everywhere else.
    By pushing political correctness, particularly in the US, the dialog has been completely hampered and the paranoia about insulting someone is increasing. There is no sense of humor about oneself and others, we are always fearing to hurt or to be hurt. Obviously there are opinions we all agree are racist and painful to listen to, but we can choose to disagree and move on. I’m half Peruvian and half German, if I’m not accused to be a thief, I’m accused of being a Nazi or a product of a Nazi/South American connection. You have to laugh about it, there is not an ounce of truth to any of the assumptions. I have had to defend my South American roots against other Hispanics not considering me Hispanic because I’m white…And I have been surprised at times to have someone that didn’t look German speak in perfect German to me…There is a denial of the fact that we all, have some sort of prejudice or preconception that can only be changed by opening up and questioning oneself and discussing it. In the US, because of it’s past, race is a red flag and admittedly, racism exists, but not only white against black, also black against white, white against Latino, Latino against Latino, black against black and white against white and all the other colors of the rainbow share some sort of prejudice. It isn’t only race, but level of education, wealth and an never ending array of prejudices that we all have made ourselves guilty off at some point in our lives. We are all in it together and the sooner we admit it and move on, the better it will be for all of us.

  4. 4 Sue
    March 19, 2008 at 13:57

    Not in my lifetime have I heard a more honest, rational, enlightened approach to the issue of race than that delivered by Obama in his speech on race. He spoke about the reality of race and how to get beyond it by concentrating on our sameness instead of our differences. The man has the capability to lead this nation to a healing, beyond pettiness and perceived differences, to a healthy respect and understanding that we truly are all one in many ways, and it behooves us to realize it; in the interest of our nation and it’s citizens.

    For too long there has simmered anger and misunderstandings on the issue of race and our differences. We cannot change the past…we must move beyond what has occurred and see what is possible with hope, belief and an attitude of “yes we can!” The last thing we need is more devisiveness in this country. People truly are hungry for a different road. The old way of approaching things has not worked. Let’s give someone like Barack a chance to help us heal our nation and build a country that will once again be a nation respected around the world!

  5. 5 Will Rhodes
    March 19, 2008 at 14:09

    To me it is obvious – and I think he did the right thing by bringing it out in the open, now maybe Hillary will stop the slight-of-hand jibes and say what she is really thinking.

    It still isn’t that long ago when you had demarcation by race, have things got better in the US – certainly has. But it is still something that needs to be publicly spoken about and not kept in the closet hoping that it will go away.

  6. 6 Anthony
    March 19, 2008 at 14:12

    I wish race didn’t matter, but it does. I believe what Ferraro said to be true, that if he wasn’t black, he’d be in a different situation. There are so many Black’s and young American’s voting just because he’s half black. It’s stupid and outrageous! I wish we could choose the president like the major symphonies, behind a curtain so you can’t see anything physical about the candidate.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  7. 7 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 14:14

    I have been listening to the radio, and they’re showing the hypocrisy of Obama on this pastor thing. Obama condemned Don Imus for his racist comments (even in a joking manner Imus stated them) and said we shouldn’t enable people who say things, after being on Imus’ show only once, but doesn’t feel the same way about his 20 year pastor, who is an overt racist, who says all whites are racists and that whites are deliberately infecting blacks with AIDs, and that whites invented aids to kill off black people. Yet Obama has no problem “enabling” him by still belonging to that church. I realize there’s a difference between the pastor of a church and a radio host, but you think you would expect more civil speech from a pastor, not a shock jock.

  8. 8 John in Salem
    March 19, 2008 at 14:15

    Anytime is a good time to talk about racial issues, but white Americans have to keep in mind what black Americans cannot forget – Talk is cheap.

  9. 9 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 14:24

    The Clinton campaign has raised race to attack Obama. He is only reacting to that.

    Attacking someone for what a pastor said in the past looks pretty pathetic to me.

    This says more about Clinton than Obama.

  10. 10 Virginia Davis
    March 19, 2008 at 14:28

    In retrospect, it seems to be this speech by Senator Obama was inevitable. Because he is black, because this country is racist. I searched it out on CNN and read it through. His very viable candidacy is a test of our respect and tolerance as a people. One commentator said it was the most important speech on race since those of Martin Luther King. In local news he will be here this Friday. I don’t like crowds; it will be interesting. I am aware that many, many of his supporters are of the “newer” generations and drawn to his messages of change. It is good for us to talk about race? Definitely. Virginia in Portland, OR

  11. 11 Chris Clarke-Williams
    March 19, 2008 at 14:30

    I do not know why it it should be controversial to state the the September 11th attacks were in revenge for America’s foreign policy. Osama Bib Laden said as much repeatedly and I see no reason to disbelieve him. Even if Osama had not made the claim that this was his motivation its is sure self evident, we and to an even greater extent the Americans have appeared to actively support the Israeli occupation of land which traditionally belonged to Arabs and Jews. we have been tolerant of Israeli aggression against the indigenous population, seizing of their lands etc and supplied them with the weapons to do this. Sadly we have also had a very patronising even hostile attitude to much of the Muslim world. Yes fair play the 11/9 attacks were revenge it is obvious and to deny it not only foolish but dangerous because if we do not acknowledge the problem we will not seek solutions.

    I hope it is equally obvious that the revenge was not justified just because it had a cause. In the old saying two wrongs do not make a right. That said after generations of murder in the occupied lands of Palestine and the other things we have done to stir up hostility in the Arab world putting things right with the ordinary people of the Arab world is going to be a tall order. Invading Iraq was not the right way to go about it, since 11/9 we have made things much worse.

    We need to start by at least listening to the Arab world and taking them seriously. We need to be seeking to engage with them as partners to solve the world’s problems and looking for what common ground we have.

    We need humility in admitting where we were wrong and asking for forgiveness.

  12. March 19, 2008 at 14:38

    I wholeheartedly agree with and support Sue’s comments (above). My only regret is that someone of his statue and with such a wide audience hasn’t articulated these underlying and all-to-real issues before – AMEN! I voted for him in my promary, and will most gladly do so again in the general election. Thank you, Barack!

  13. 13 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 14:49

    Chris Clarke-Williams:

    Are you suggesting that some people cannot control themselves and behave in a civilized manner? I don’t like the policies and actions of Iran, yet I have no desire to hijack airplanes and crash them into buildings. If I did, and it was becuase of their policies, would you say “well, what he did was terrorism, but we should look to why he did it”…???

    I don’t think so, becuase I think people on the left make excuses for terrorism, will justify it by saying “they have a gripe” but then expect everyone else on earth to control their actions an behaved in a civilized manner. There’s a double standard going on. I’ve called out friends on this double standard, and posed the question if I hijacked a plane and crashed a building, they said they wouldn’t talk about why I did it, they would just condemn it. I think it’s time people starting to hold ALL people to the same standards of civility.

  14. 14 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 14:51


    I cannot help but wonder if the black woman was trying to address something being done to her in the office and her indirect manner of addressing it did not open discussion. If it was, it back fired and you will never know.


    Nice remarks.

    But the political reality is the Clinton campaign has redirected the message of hope to undermine the other candidate, a disservice to the democrats and the nation regardless who wins the nomination.

    The Republicans are jumping up and down with glee at all this self inflicted wounding of the democratic party and pulling for Hillary hard on local radio-

    She is their only hope to regain the white house.

  15. 15 Will Rhodes
    March 19, 2008 at 15:00


    I blogged about a related issue a few days ago.

    Is banning the word anyway to go? Or is that itself just covering over the cracks?

  16. 16 Jamila Thomas
    March 19, 2008 at 15:01

    Personally, I don’t believe in race. Nonetheless, Sue represents the intelligent, kinder, and gentler American/member of the human race. Bravo!

  17. 17 Will Rhodes
    March 19, 2008 at 15:14

    I don’t think so, becuase I think people on the left make excuses for terrorism, will justify it by saying “they have a gripe” but then expect everyone else on earth to control their actions an behaved in a civilized manner.

    Steve – I am left, I regard myself more of a socialist than anything else if I have to put myself in a category – but I do not, and will not ever support the use of terrorism to glean political credibility.

    The armed incursions in Iraq, Palestine, Israel and many other nations is not down to US foreign policy alone, although the US does have to rethink it and have an up and coming opportunity to do so.

    Where we see in this discussion – race is still a part of something under lying in the US which the the US has to deal with, but we must also remember that racism isn’t an American phenomenon – it is something that many, many countries have to speak about openly and with those who are the racists – not just to give them a stage to advocate what they have to say, but without them their the whole discussion will be mute.

    If people still insist that racism is a one way street, that is clouded thinking and one for cuckoo land.

  18. 18 gary
    March 19, 2008 at 15:19

    Hello All,
    Is it good to talk about race? It is good for citizens in the US to talk about issues affecting voters in the US. This issue however mostly appeals to those people who discriminate -either Black or Whiteor other- based on race. I don’t so do, so It is not the only issue, nor even the most important one to me.
    Issues important to me include a reasonably aggressive energy policy (not the BS proposed by the current administration), a reasonable ending to the sillyness in Iraq and Afghanistan (but not break and run – the current admin. screwed it up – we owe the people of Iraq and Afghanistan some sort of reasonable “fix.”), fiscal responsibility (once again, not the BS tax breaks for the business types / deficit spending to be paid in future by actual tax payers – the non-wealthy), active dialog / conversation / negotiation with current “enemies” (including Cuba), some reasonable immigration / illegal alien package, elimination of PACs and Lobbyists of every stripe and variety, and a manditory geography / geopolitics / global responsibility / ethics / fiscal responsibility continuing education course (conducted in a prison setting for extra effect) for every elected, appointed, or hired official in DC.

  19. March 19, 2008 at 15:19

    Race is a fact in the USA. It is one of the countries that has a census of its population based o*n race and colour. There are countries that have no official statistics about its people according to their colour. There still expression used in the USA when it comes to race, like the first black Secretary State or the first black governor in such a state.

    Barrack Obama has drawn so much interest because of his colour. Fir the Republicans, there was not as much interest as in the Democrats campaign because the major candidates were all white. But Obama isn’t representing blacks. He should be seen purely as American. In his campaign, there aren’t just black people but also whites of great importance like senators and stars. His audience in his campaigns is made up of all races. It would sound queer if his audience was all black as if he was preparing for a civil war to avenge for black enslaved ancestors.

    Obama has dreams for a change. But to be frank he is the embodiment of the America dream. Being the son of a Kenyan father who migrated to the USA, it didn’t take his father three or four generations to see his offspring reaching a prestigious position in the American society.
    At the same time it is difficult to brainwash people who still have racial attitudes. Obama himself was racially abused by his white grandmother as he has admitted. Voters rejecting Obama because of his race is a really bad setback to the American ideal. Voters can be respected in their choice of candidates based on their messages and not their race or gender.
    Whatever, the outcome in the primary, Obama will go down history as the first black who has shaken up racial attitudes in the USA as presidential candidate after the black theorists and activists like Martin Luther King.

    Obama’s speech on race is a call for the Americans still holding negatively inherited racial attitudes to look inside and to find if it is still worth it to view their country racially. The American administrations (Republican and Democrat) have taken the lead by appointing black people in key posts, the most famous of whom are Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel on merit. Now it’s up to the American people to choose who should lead them on merits and not on racial basis.

  20. 20 Katharina in Ghent
    March 19, 2008 at 15:25


    I agree with what you responded to Chris, but it seems that Americans tend to either not to listen or only to hear what they want to hear. I recall watching the news on CNN a few days after 9/11 and this reporter made an interview with an Arabian and kept asking again, “Why did they do this???”, and whatever the Arabian answered (Americans stayed too long in Saudi-Arabia after the first Gulf war, the Israel-Palestine conflict etc.), the reporter just kept asking, instead of getting the message into his head that not everybody in the whole wide world loves the US.

    To come back to the race issue, it was probably long overdue that Obama finally addressed it, sometimes it’s better to look the devil in the eye and say: Yes, I’m black, there’s nothing I can do about, I’m not ashamed of it either and now let’s move on. There are more important problems to solve than that. The sad thing is that there is probably a big group of people in the US who predominantly only see the colour of his skin, instead of listening to what he has to say (or a woman, for that matter. If it doesn’t come from a solid aged white male, it can’t be any good…) And I don’t think that you can change them ever. The only hope will be that future generations can overcome this and start working together productively. I don’t think the US is there, yet.

  21. March 19, 2008 at 15:27

    It is weird that so many Americans are in denial of having brought anything on themselves and they would prefer a ‘lick our *sses’ response from the world that an honest straight out appraisal of misdeeds. They clearly HAVE been biased and allowed brutality in the ME. They have not always done right by the Muslim and nations backing America have suffered also. Obama might change that. He is not such a hawk and a misguided patriot. As for the black population. They have been kept down and some Americans have gotten rich on their backs just as the 12 million immigrants were suckered in and who now are criminalized by not being able to legally drive or have a bank account. For those same reasons they are also targetted by the real criminal element. The children of those suckered in illegals will rise up one day and it will be the same thing all over but with Hispanic rhetoric in the churches. They also have made many Americans rich and those same people rebuilt Pensacola after hurricane Ivan and Nola after Katrina and cleared ground zero to their bad health today. In the deep South they thrive on racial mindsets just as always and it will not go away anytime soon. The N word is as common as the F word. Get over it. Its the nature of the beast.

  22. 22 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 15:35


    “The American administrations (Republican and Democrat) have taken the lead by appointing black people in key posts, the most famous of whom are Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel on merit.”


    You might make the argument Rice and Powel were the only public figures of the Bush Administration who were competent.

    It is ironic they were placed in the positions for token race purposes.

    If the whole Bush administration had been their quality the USA would be in far better shape today in every respect.

    Competence over “elitism” is better government every time, regardless of race or other factors.

  23. 23 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 15:50


    “I blogged about a related issue a few days ago.”

    You keep saying this.

    If you reread your blog and put up a synopsis or the most key observation or conclusion,

    depending on the topic,

    it would be more effective for some of us.

    Besides, when you condense your own writing, you further clarify your own thoughts and conclusions.

    Sometimes one discovers something in the process- a satisfying phenomenon of writing.

  24. March 19, 2008 at 15:51

    Mr. Obama likes having it both ways, on the one hand he compliments his mentor, and on the other he disassociates himself from his mentors preaching, he just cant have it both ways. His comments on the issue of race is his key card to get support of the afro american voters. In my oppinion he has a hidden agenda and intends to carry it out if he is elected. Its typical he has had support from Mr. Edward Kennedy who probably felt he could not run for Prisident of the USA considering his involvement in an unfortunate incident of a woman drowning many years ago. It would interest me to know as to where he gets his financial support.

  25. March 19, 2008 at 16:07

    To George,
    I think that Rice and Powel were put in a higher position as a reflection of the growing powers of blacks in the USA. No can deny that black people are now in a far better position compared to the situation they were in during the marches in the 60s. Maybe they were appointed for the sake of racial balance in the USA. Obama hasn’t been appointed by anyone to be a presidential candidate. It was his credibility that made him elected as senator and to have great success in his presidential campaign so far. (Remember that Rev Jessie Jackson was “barred” in 1984 by the Democrats from standing as presidential candidate for the sake of the party as his colour would be a hindrance to any of their chances at the presidential elections.

    Obama is a barometer of the depth of racism in the USA. There are still those who look at the man because of his colour and not because of what he is. So far he is doing well, posing a threat to Hilary Clinton and even to the Republicans who may not be returned to power because of the low popularity of George Bush and the current state of the economy. There is no way to predict who’s going to be US next president as long as the Democrat candidate hasn’t been chosen yet and the presidential campaign hasn’t started in full swing yet.

    Obama will be an inspiration for those who believe in his ideal. There are those who have a crush on him as there are those who are fearful that he can crush them because of the possibility of his having a great chance to be the first black US president.

  26. 26 David Malinda
    March 19, 2008 at 16:09

    I took leave to read Barack Obama’s speach. The speach was from a mature, intelligent and candid person who not only should be an automatic democratic candidate for the White House, but a savior as far as the race card is played world wide. Let us be honest with ouwselves at least for once. This is the right person to bring healing to the American people and show the world that there is nothing that can not be done.

    I personally have encountered alot of racism, but dealt with it in my own way – head on. I have no racial divide, as I pointed out in the past (on multiculturalism), am an African-Australia, married to an English well respected and self-respected woman that I call my queen. We have children who respect all races. The youngest, a brilliant young woman that I call my angel, with nuts and screws in the right place. She has friends from every corner of the world (Europeans, Africans,Asians Americans, Canadians etc. and she thinks it is great.

    Let me tell you this: as we speak, there is a racial stereotyping in the media in Australia today, where a particular person goes to the media or media goes to him and he is openly saying African-Australian are protected species and goes on and explodes! Pathetic. How do you deal with this type of thing? Be mature enough and do as Barack Obama has done, talk about it in order to move forward together.

    Although my vote does not count in America, I will vote for Obama any way. God bless.

  27. 27 carlos King
    March 19, 2008 at 16:22

    Hi my WHYS family,

    It is not only good for America to talk about racism , it is essential . And not only talk about it but to do something tangible once and for all.

    America is weak internationally, economically and morally but also spiritually because of the prejudice it has perpetuated against coloured and especially black skin people.

    America is an instrument of DIVINE orgin. America was suppose to show the world that people could live together harmoniously and respectfully and lovingly. America was suppose to be that and more! But the founding fathers blew it.

    Like Adam and Even in the garden of Eden they failed the test. They were unwilling to love their fellow black skin citizen. And because of this America’s status has seen a steady decline. I am very, very fearful for the future. Right now I am literally shaking because I fear America is going to make another disastrous mistake by rejecting Barack Obama not because of any flawed policy, any perceived inexperience or lack of competence etc. (I personally believe is is quite capable and competent to the president) but because of the veneer of his skin.

    If America rejects Barack Obama because of the fact that he has black skin it would be a very sad day in American history. This would be like putting the nail in the coffin because when and what would carry America again at this crossroads? The eoxrcise, that is, removing the ghost of discrimination and prejudice and racism must be done now or it will never be done again.

    The world is at a crossroads because America has to make a profound decision: Will they once and for all restore the dignity of the black man? or will they for selfish reasons continue to perpetuate the lie that he is less than human? I am praying that moderate America will do the right thing and reject the slandering and impigning of the integrity of Barack Obama and if they think he is the best person for the job, elect him as the next President of the United States.

    I can see no better evidence that America has overcome its intolerance and hatred of the black man than by elecing Barack Obaman as the candidate for the democrats and eventually elect him as President of the USA.

    I am pray for America and Americans in this fearful hour of decision that will chart the course of the world for the next 100 years at least. America is a wonderful place. I love America and Americans. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. America can do the right think, America must do the right think- give the black man true freedom!!!!!!!!!!!

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica

  28. 28 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 16:24

    Also, why limit this to America? It’s not like the US is the only nation with issues about race. I seem to recall that in European soccer matches, fans will make monkee sounds when black players take the field. I’ve lived in the UK, and I’ve heard people shout “bloody foreigners!”, I’ve heard british tourists in Washington, DC drunkely shout “they’re all bombers!” (referring to muslims). So, please, let’s not pretend any issues with race or religion is limited to the USA. I seem to remember in my british history course something about a “colour bar” I believe having to do something about transport. It was a very long time ago, and I barely remember, I tihnk it had to do with barring the employment of blacks as bus drivers or train employees? So this wasn’t limited to the US once again. I believe there was some violence involved too? Nottinghill? Pardon my ignorance, but this was a really long time ago and my notes got destroyed in a flood where I stored. And many other nations have had similiar stories, so this should be a world discussion, not limited to the US. And again, please, racism isn’t one way. EVERY group has racist members it. In canada, there is some native Canadian activist would would go on antisemitic rants. He absolutely loathes Jews, yet he’s a member of a minority group. So yes, non white people can be racists. Let’s not forget that!

  29. March 19, 2008 at 16:25

    It is extremely good to begin the discussion about race in USA. For about 200 years the black people were not given any right and were condemned to the lowermost strata. This obviously made them one of the poorest people in one of the richest nations in the world. Only a few decades back they were finally given the freedom and right to equality after segregation was legally banned. But now you had another issue which no one really tackled: poverty. The black people who had no wealth of any sorts due to segregation were caught in the vicious circle of poverty. To expect them to get out of poverty without any help from anyone is just another form of racism.
    Where there is poverty there is crime and poor health. We see those clear trends in the poorest community of USA which is the black community. If this superpower of the world really wanted to spread freedom and equality to the rest of the world, it should first deal with its own people first and set a good example.
    Practice before you preach!

  30. 30 Peter Gizzi
    March 19, 2008 at 16:30

    I think Barack Obama was very brave to make this speech. There is still a lot of racism in The USA especially in “The South”. I feel he is more honest than Hilary Clinton, though are any of them actually honest. We in The UK have problems with the enormous numbers of Eastern Europeans forced upon us thanks to The European Union. We it seems have no say on such matters. At least in The USA there is still a form of democracy.

  31. 31 Janet T
    March 19, 2008 at 16:30

    I’ve lived on the West Coast from Los Angeles during the Rodney Allen King trial verdict riots to Oregon which tends to run very white. I’ve raised 2 kids in an attempt to be “color-blind”, (which I don’t think is literally possible) by encouraging them to have friends without color judgement. and I think we as a country still have a very, very long way to go. I still see people with swastika tatoos and Confederate flag bumper stickers. I just can’t believe people think that way in this day and age-there are so many other problems in this world:(people are hungry, children are abused), that the color of a person’s skin should not matter. The things that should matter are what we can control- our heart and mind. The only way to get past this is to continue to openly discuss race, continuing to educate, educate, educate. The less a subject is taboo and gets more out in the open the better off we are as a society. We’ve taken baby steps as a country and as the younger generation grows up hopefully we will conitnue on the right path. Prejudice is prejudice regardless of the color of one’s skin. Acceptance of race cannot be one-sided everyone has to work towards the same goal.

  32. 32 Marsha
    March 19, 2008 at 16:39

    The discussion is good and … I wasn’t really frustrated about race until I moved to a city that is 86% people of black African decent. Their cumstances teaches (forces) all other people to walk on egg shells all the time for fear of offending some one and then being accused of being racist. So I must ask first that we define that word … because if it means to belittle someone because of their race then my assertion is everyone on this planet has at one time in their life acted in a racist way. If it means a person who has no tolerance for someone else just because their skin colors differ then I say the blacks I have encountered here are the most racist people I have met … I really don’t know what everyone else means when they use that word and I think it is a mistake to assume we all mean the same thing…
    my experience here though has made me observe the following … the conversation concerning racism seems blind and onesided … its as if only white people can be racist … but think abou tthis …if white people built a college and named it something to the effect of “the Historically Promiment Rich White Man’s College” and only invited white people to go there … the world would have a seizure (Oh wait , they did and the LAW made them change that process)… but the black people of African decent can do that and it’s OK. Many times a month I see e-mails for scholarships being offered to black high schools students by the NB___A (National Black you name the career field Association). I am just baffled by this … why do we accept a “National Black Association of Architects or Attorneys or Accountant when you know there would be a civil war if the white accounts all got together and formed an association of only white people and actually called themselves the National Association of WHITE Accountants).

    I think Obama’s speech was the perfect example of this blind onesidedness … he can refuse to disassociate with a man who many repeated and constantly gave hard driven speeches that were meant to influence the heart and soul of the people to whom he spoke … his congregation … of an all BLACK church but Oh my God … Clinton is put on the hot seat to denounce Firraro’s single sentenced comment or else …

    I hear a most eligant speech on PBS the other day but did not catch the man’s name … he was a college professor who state he was like Obama half White and Half Black and he was not happy with the way Blacks were “using” this candidate to further “their cause” The cause being the hard driven lesson they had been taught in the churches and homes to distrust all whites and take them down when ever and how ever you could. He admitted that these lessons were taught intentionally to each generation and that is why there were “black only” churches and schools etc. I was blown away by his comments.This was an intelligent educated man and he was truely saddened by the circumstance he saw growing in our country at this time.

    I am with him … please people …let us all be humans first … I am a person of color just like every other person on the planet … as I have never seen a clear person … there are white Africans and tan Africans and very dark skinned people who come from places other than Africa … so GET OVER IT … let us all be people who are living in today and not in the retold self perpetuating drama story of our ancestor. All people have been enslaved at one point in history, all countries have been invaded, all races are guilty of injustices against others ….let us all grow up and become ONE PEOPLE. Have intolerance for violence against the individual only, regardless of their race, age, nationality, ethnicity, gender or life still preferences or social standing.One People One World.

  33. 33 Timothea
    March 19, 2008 at 16:51

    Barack Obama has given us the opportunity to explore the very different realities experienced by white, black, asian, hispanic etc people in America. Just as right after 9/11 many Americans were ignorant of the issues which lead to the anger towards the USA, I think most people are unaware of the challenges faced by people of different races. The feelings of anger, frustration, hurt are valid on both sides, and only through open, constructive dialog will things start to change. I am hopeful Obama will be able to facilitate this conversation which brings people together, instead of ending with blame and division.

    It is not his skin color which makes his message of unity in diversity so powerful and inspiring. He expresses the hope many of us feel that change is possible and we can make the world, society, our communities better places for everyone.

  34. March 19, 2008 at 16:52

    It is obvious that America needs to change its attitude on racialism!! America is full of racial segregation stories. Black Americans and red Indians are completely dispised simply because of their racial. Barack is right and American people must support him to takle the situation.Delivering that speech,he wasnt standing on the political side but on the reality that America needs an immediate change on racialism!! I support Barack–that racial issue should be ended!

  35. March 19, 2008 at 16:53

    It comes down to race most as candidates playing this card are bereft of legitimate ideas and policy or simply looking to sully their opponent. If I were a voter in the US wouldn’t I, shouldn’t I be more concerned about the quality of the candidate and their potential to lead the country then if they are old, young, male, female, black or white?

  36. March 19, 2008 at 16:54

    The real question that we should be asking ourselves is why we seem to act like talking about race means only black and white issues. What about all the Mexicans? There is a huge racial divide and stereotypes as well as outright hatred for our latino minority. They never seem to get talked about unless a politician is visitting a border state. What about the Asians? Ignoring the other races promotes the idea that blacks are different in the depths of our subconscious.

  37. March 19, 2008 at 16:54

    No America is not ready. But, like in most relationships, partners find it very difficult to talk about certain issues due to hurting the others feelings or starting an argument. The issue is then swept under the rug for years and years. Eventually it comes out like a Tsunami and if not delt with in a delicate way, relationships end.

    America will never be ready.

    Obama did a great thing delivering that speech as only he could. It’s a clear indication of how he will deal with issues in the White House – head on and not let it fester.

  38. March 19, 2008 at 16:55

    Not in my lifetime have I heard a more honest, rational, enlightened approach to the issue of race than that delivered by Obama in his speech on race. He spoke about the reality of race and how to get beyond it by concentrating on our sameness instead of our differences. The man has the capability to lead this nation to a healing, beyond pettiness and perceived differences, to a healthy respect and understanding that we truly are all one in many ways, and it behooves us to realize it; in the interest of our nation and it’s citizens. For too long there has simmered anger and misunderstandings on the issue of race and our differences. We cannot change the past…we must move beyond what has occurred and see what is possible with hope, belief and an attitude of “yes we can!” The last thing we need is more devisiveness in this country. People truly are hungry for a different road. The old way of approaching things has not worked. Let’s give someone like Barack a chance to help us heal our nation and build a country that will once again be a nation respected around the world!

  39. March 19, 2008 at 16:56

    I think it is an issue which has often be addressed but still remains unsolved. And yes, I think it is good to go ahead with that matter as long as so many racial problems persist. If only the fact that 40% of the prison population is black, while they make out 10% of the US population…However, I have the intimate conviction that this issue will mean the inevitable loss of Barack Obama.

  40. March 19, 2008 at 16:57

    No no no you cant have it both ways, on the one hand you praise your preacher, on the other, you dissociate yourself from his nasty comments of America. you cant have it both ways. I think perhaps Barak Obama has a hidden agenda which would not be good for America. He has received for his nomination, support from a well known figure who was involved in an incident many years ago, when a woman he was friendly with drowned. I am interested to learn as to from where he gets his financial support

  41. March 19, 2008 at 17:15

    Rev. Write hates America. There is no justification whatsoever for what happened on 9-11. Obama’s speech was as the others, empty words.
    America is the greatest country in the world, and our President GWB is one of the greates presidents of the US.

  42. March 19, 2008 at 17:21

    Elias Jacob:
    I do not think Barrack Obama has any hidden agenda. To think that a presidential candidate will have a hidden agenda based on race just shows how race has divided people in America.
    Also he should not be held responsible for what his preacher has said.
    Would Hillary take responsibility for what Geraldo said ??
    So would you chastise Bill Clinton’s entire presidency just because he had an affair with his assistant?

  43. 44 Jackie
    March 19, 2008 at 17:22

    I’ve read all the comments…for the most part, I see that most of the responders got the message in Senator Obama’s speech. Racism is real in America – it was real at the inception of this great nation, and it is more than real today.

    Like others, I truly believe this is a time of much needed healing, and Senator Obama is the one candidate who can/will be sensitive enough to this issue to bring that healing into existence.

    Marsha – I understand your position. My comment to you is, don’t believe everything you hear/read from people, whether they are educated or not. Since you live in a Black neighborhood, go to a Black church yourself – attend a service there and see what is taught. Black churches across the country are not preaching about bringing the white man down…that is the most absurd, untrue statement I’ve heard in a long time!!! Also, you walk on eggshells in the Black community you live in…well, you have a taste of what Africans in America have been feeling for well over 400 years! Should anyone be made to feel like this? No. How can we overcome this feeling/reality? By getting involved with each other, talking about our differences and actively working together to make a change, the kind of change Senator Obama is promoting and committed to.

    For the responder who asked how Senator Obama is funding his campaign, he is doing so by the $1, $10, $25, $50 donations of everyday Americans, of all colors, races and creeds.

    America needs change in so many ways and racial injustice is one of the forefront areas of this much needed change.

    I challenge everyone to look outside the box, don’t look to the media as your only source of knowledge (soundbites are created to incite/sensationalize feelings, not to spread real knowledge), and when you are feeling passionately about an issue, consider the other side and do your best to see it from their vantage point. Maybe then we can have the American dream realized.

    God Bless.

  44. 45 barb OR
    March 19, 2008 at 17:22

    For me this brings up – again – the huge difference between the West Coast and the rest of the country. Race is just not a big deal to me, it registers no more than “hey they have red hair”. I am white and grew up in a city and went to high school where whites were clearly the minority.
    On the west coast, and in the country in general I believe, more and more people are not clearly ‘one category’. Race is a dying issue in my opinion. People under 30 aren’t thinking in terms of black or white or hispanic. There are so many different shades of people and we are all blending together.
    Shouldn’t we all evolve our thinking about race and join the rest of the world in knowing that race is not A or B, but a rainbow of variations. Character is much more important than skin tone.

  45. 46 Scott Millar
    March 19, 2008 at 17:24

    Obama gave a speech as a response to the exposure of statements made by his pastor, his motivation was political. Obama was part of a racist and bigoted church. He is also part of the problem.

    Racism might let up in America when the discussion becomes objective and both sides are scrutinized. Minorities in America are just a racist if not more so then the majority, statistics support this and Pastor Wright is a clear example of this. Intelligent people are tired of hearing wolf cried so many times, when it clearly isn’t the case. The discussion is repeatedly subjective and I think open-minded people are sick of hearing about it, and they just don’t care anymore. It is hard to decipher the real issues from the exaggerated issues.

    – Portland, Oregon

  46. March 19, 2008 at 17:28

    There is racism in the United States, it’s a fact (Whites don’t like blacks, blacks don’t like asians, whites don’t like asians, blacks don’t like whites nor hispanics, etc).
    In regards to black people, it’s mainly black people who themselves still consider themselves discriminated, when in reality all you hear in the media are black people singing or acting or playing sports, all you hear and watch on the media is mostly rich successful black people flashing money at you.

    In real life, MOST people don’t care what color you are or how you look, most
    people care about the way someone behaves, in other words, their culture.

    Most people don’t like violence, the culture that most black people on the media
    THEY THEMSELVES portrait as is violent, pornographic, narcotic, obscene, sexist and irresponsible.

    So, if someone might not like someone who is black, it’s mainly due in part to the way black people themselves portrait as, and most importantly, HOW THEY BEHAVE AMONG OTHERS.

    Also the so called “leaders” of black people talk to much about this or that, they excite the people, but have no useful plans for anything..

    There are people who are as poor as black people, yet you don’t see them
    complaining about everything, if there are no jobs, they move somewhere else, if there is no education they buy books, it’s all about culture now a days, not about what color or race or class (Rich kids in the U.S. are some of the dumbest ignorant hicks people I’ve known) you are.

  47. 48 S. Ann
    March 19, 2008 at 17:28

    I don’t understand where the woman caller was coming from who could not see that Barack Obama is bringing the races more together. I am so excited (I’m Eurasian, more white than not) I’m sending my check to the Obama campaign today. This is the moment in history that so many Americans have been hoping for, for most of our lives (since we were old enough to realize what’s right, I mean.) It was a tremendous speech that Senator Obama gave. I’ve been reading his autobiography, which he wrote as a much younger man. And it, too, is incredibly heart-felt and brilliantly unifying. Obama is also the man with the heart and mind who actually has the potential to bring the western nations and the mideastern ones closer together.

  48. March 19, 2008 at 17:28

    this conversation is mostly missing the point….

    blacks are 12% or 13% of the american population…. less than 10% of the electorate…. and even less of of it’s gross national product….

    Obama knows this…that is why HE would never play the race card….it is a losing proposition for any person of color in america…. Reagan did it in Philadelphia Mississippi, other so called conservatives have too… AND THEY WIN WITH IT! Theirs is a different dynamic…

    Rev. Wright is wrong about many of the things he has said (in the sound bites).



  49. March 19, 2008 at 17:32

    What surprises me is that it has taken this long to say out loud what everyone already knows. The fact that the media is treating Obama’s speech as the enlightened words of the Messiah only goes to show you how the news is shaped by journalists, rather than reflecting the plain reality of everyday living.
    Political correctness has now made it a peer pressure issue not to admit that one is racist or has prejudices. The problem with this is that no one can speak openly, have any kind of dialogue, and perhaps understand or reconcile with one another since it has become taboo to talk about this topic. Scratch beneath the surface and you find people of all colors have racist feelings. Being unable to speak about it only creates frustration and bottled up resentment. I’m particulary tired of the media portraying this as if only white America is racist. Just because you are a minority does not mean you aren’t racist. Reverend Jeremiah Wright has had a lot of excuses made for him but I doubt David Duke would get a pass.
    I think a bigger problem in America is it’s misogyny. The way the media has treated Clinton in comparison to Obama and the way she is portrayed, along with the type of comments that have been said about her shows that it’s ok to treat women in a way you can’t treat minorities, in public anyway. As a woman, she is subjected to preconceived notions about how she is to behave, and no matter what she does, she is judged more harshly than any male candidate. Obama has been handled with kid gloves up until recently. The media tip toed around him because they didn’t want to deal with the pulling of the race card and fear of being called racist. Instead, they went after Hillary, showing that misogyny in America is so ingrained that they could be hostile and unfair with impunity.
    As an Asian, I never hear about my rights, only about black rights. But whether you’re Latino, black, Asian, or white, over half of the population is female and we’re all getting the short end of the stick.

  50. 51 Pat Quinn
    March 19, 2008 at 17:32

    An effective advancement in inter- racial harmony will only occur (in the US or anywhere) when each us understands and accepts that what maintains the racial problems is any one of us thinking it is OK to exclude some others from our sense of good will and trust because of their differences rather than to include them because of our common human destiny. It is terribly unhelpful to scare or alienate or avoid one another. Can we not allow our natural curiosity and innocence to enjoy and depend on each other at least a little more each day?

    Portland, Oregon

  51. 52 Dave
    March 19, 2008 at 17:33

    It really bothers me when you have guests say that nobody has spoken about poverty since Dr. King. John Edwards attempted to make poverty the centerpiece of his campaign this year and the press would not give him the time of day. In fact, if one reads Obama’s speech yesterday as saying that black, or white, the poor and underprivleged all have the same problems, well, hey, that’s practically an endorsement of what John Edwards was saying. Unless, of course, it’s a vieled play for John Edwards’ endorsement of Obama.

  52. 53 viola anderson
    March 19, 2008 at 17:33

    Obama absolutely had to make his speech about race. He is trying to quell the fear and anger felt by whites toward blacks and blacks toward whites. Race is easily exploited by unscrupulous individuals of any race, creed or color including presidential campaigns. I totally understand why he will not turn his back on the pastor of his church who, unfortunately, used his pulpit in the same fashion as some Islamic clerics use theirs, not to promote harmony, but to sow discord. I have relatives who express the meanest kind of racial contempt toward black people. Those same relatives are in every other respect wonderful people whom I love deeply. I think Obama and everyone else who rejects stereotypes of all kinds must stand up and reject such attitudes as those expressed by his pastor. I believe he did that in his speech on national television in front of the world. If it wasn’t just political expediency, I say “Good for him. It’s about time someone tells it like it is.”

    He needs to be just as smart about the import of 9-11.

  53. 54 Kim via email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:33

    It’s not black People that America has a problem with, it’s poor people.

    Kim in Portland OR

  54. 55 Duane via email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:34


    Those that ask why Obama didn’t leave his church in the wake of the pastor’s comments are missing the point. I’d like to have people ask why people didn’t leave his flock when Jerry Falwell said from the pulpit that Hurricane Katrina was a punishment from God to the city of New Orleans for its sins.

    People in our country (USA) need to look at the broader issue around race raised up by Obama and the courage it took to speak with such candor…


  55. 56 russ hall -- cleveland, ohio
    March 19, 2008 at 17:36

    Actually, Obama has called on us to come together to address our shared and chronic problems such as people without health care, financial institutions without adequate regulation, our deteriorating infrastructure and environment, and our international relations – from immigration to trade to war and terrorism.

    The powers that be would love to make it about race, religion or anything else that will preserve their power. Why have you framed the topic their way?

  56. 57 David via email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:36

    My name is David and I am from Cleveland Ohio. Upon hearing the speech that Obama gave my conclusion is that it was another great speech by him but it does not get to the main point of the reason that he gave the speech. He gave the speech because of his pastor’s remarks. If any other candidate black, white, republican, or democrat attended a church where the church leader denegrated African American people that person would have NO political career here in America. The double standard for African AMericans free speech and White Americans is striking. All the speech does is give Obama another angle that no other candidate can use, that angle being race.

  57. 58 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 17:36

    Michel makes some good points, especially about other groups. I don’t know how the international press is covering this story, but race relations between blacks and hispanics in the US is bad. But whenever there is focus on racism, it’s always white racism against blacks, even though what sparked this was the pastor’s racist and hateful statements towards whites and America in general. If anyone cared to think why Hillary Clinton wants the Florida primary to count,j is because Florida is a heavily hispanic state. Hispanics and blacks don’t like each other. Hillary would win, and get those delegates. We really shouldn’t ignore issues like this.

  58. 59 Dave via email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:37

    It really bothers me when you have guests say that nobody has spoken about poverty since Dr. King. John Edwards attempted to make poverty the centerpiece of his campaign this year and the press would not give him the time of day. In fact, if one reads Obama’s speech yesterday as saying that black, or white, the poor and underprivleged all have the same problems, well, hey, that’s practically an endorsement of what John Edwards was saying. Unless, of course, it’s a vieled play for John Edwards’ endorsement of Obama.


  59. 60 Mark Sandell
    March 19, 2008 at 17:40

    Why have we framed the topic “their way ” ? One of the three potential next Presidents of the USA makes a major speech about race, it is front page news and the talk of the blogs. Our programme aims (not always successfully) to reflect what people are talking about, and people are certainly talking about this. We asked “is it good for America to talk about the issue “, and i don’t think that’s framing it anyone’s way.
    Thanks for posting

  60. March 19, 2008 at 17:40

    If America aimed at removing poverty and improving the condition of the poor people then racism will also go away automatically. Right now we find that the US is hesitant in providing economic help to the poorest people in their own country. Most poor people are black. If you remove poverty, racism will also go away.

  61. 62 Rachel in California USA
    March 19, 2008 at 17:41

    I’m a Euro American veteran of the civil rights movement in the American South of the 1960’s. Since Martin Luther King Jr. I have not heard anyone speak with as much sense about racial issues. I have NEVER heard a politician lay out the situation as clearly.

    Obama calls Americans to name our angers and resentments, the burdens of the past, and then to move into a common future. To fix the crumbling schools that fail American children of all races, religions, and regions. To create a health care system that cares for everyone’s health. To provide decent jobs for everyone who will work. To talk about the homes for sale that once belonged to ordinary people seeking a piece of the American dream.

    The speech is nuanced. It embraces what seem to be opposits, in the ordinary crude vision of media politics. It embraces the idea of growing beyond our current narrow vision and taking up the job of living together as citizens.

    Obama proposes another speech, this time on Iraq. I hope that it will call as clearly for a genuine world citizenship.

  62. 63 Max
    March 19, 2008 at 17:42

    I hope we don’t spend the whole hour talking about whether or not we should talk about race. Let’s move the dialog fwd and talk about it! That is clearly the most important function of this world forum.

    -The Civil Rights Movement
    When your guests speak of the civil rights movement they speak about it as though it is in the past. This is a sad testament to the fact that the anger and pain of racism in the US is being allowed to ferment beneath the surface with no one to carry the torch. The woman from NY (Nina?) stated that she has no outlet to her media. I would challenge her to say that to the thousands of protesters who marched in the 60s to bring about the first changes of equality in American Law. The fight may not be hers to continue, but the fact is that the civil rights movement has atrophied without leaders like Dr. King and the Black Panthers to shepherd the attention of a nation slowly and continuously.

    -Affirmative Action
    As a young white man I feel the immense amount of white guilt to balance the scales and give minorities opportunities they have been deprived of in the past. However, as Mr. Obama stated, it only continues the inequities and diminishes the achievements of these people on their merit alone.

    Thank you for this opportunity to share my views with the world!


  63. 64 Pamela via email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:42

    I find it disingenuous to compare Wright’s comments with Dr. Martin Luther King. King saw the ugliness and depth of racism, but he was clear about one thing: America was his country, too; he had no other.
    Because he was fully an American, he fought for its ideals. Wright and others like him divorce themselves from this country. Even your earlier caller talked about living somewhere else. “God Damn America” is an expression of anger, but does nothing at all to solve the problems posed by racism or help whites understand anything but the fact that he is angry. Obama is right to disavow these remarks. However, his wife’s comment that she was not proud of her country until her husband’s successful presidential campaign is a faint echo of these same sentiments.

    Those who feel they are not a part of this country probably should look for another place to live — either that or join the struggle, truly commit to making their own country a better place and not “damning it.”

    El Cerrito, California

  64. 65 Craig
    March 19, 2008 at 17:45

    I think as long as we are still disscussing the race of a nominee, then it is an issue. It is a shame we still believe that race matters.
    I personally believe that the color of someones skin should have no bearing on their consideration for anything other than maybe time spend in the sun.

  65. March 19, 2008 at 17:47

    for sake of discussion, let’s assume white folks are guilty of everything they’ve ever been accused of….

    understanding human nature and human history….. WHAT TO DO???? this guy from cleveland is still talking about programs…. geezz…. 45 years of programs already….

    everyone is their own worst enemy….including blacks

    quite claiming the pain and get on with it…. life isn’t fair…. it is less fair for some…

    what politician can give US our self respect back??? sense of community??? make us stop having babies we are not ready for and cannot afford???

  66. 67 Scott Millar
    March 19, 2008 at 17:48

    I have a feeling that many African Americans don’t want to get beyond racism. Sometimes discrimination creates and preserves a culture and a community.

    I am a depressed person and in some ways I have fallen in love with depression, it is who I am, it is a much a disease as a defense. The same might be true for African Americans. I think many have fallen in love with being the victim and it has been so inculcated into their culture and church’s. It will take miracles to overcome this.

    -Portland, Oregon

  67. 68 Margot in Portland OR
    March 19, 2008 at 17:50

    Concerning Obama’s speech:
    I believe Obama addressed the issue in a very good way. Only by each of us looking at our own personal experience and truthfully examining our thoughts and reactions can be deal with this issue effectively. Listening to what Obama said started me thinking how true it is in my life, that when I do disagree with what a friend or family member might say or do, I don’t disown them because of it. We all need to be a little more open to reality, and not always try to keep up the illusion that everything in our own lives is totally cohesive and of only one opinion.
    If we’re a little more open to admitting there are conflicts within our own perfect worlds, we should be able to open ourselves to discussing the race issue as well as other divisions,
    I appreciate Obama discussing the issue in his open manner, not putting blame anywhere but instead asking for dialog.

  68. 69 Peter
    March 19, 2008 at 17:50

    I have to add 9/11 was never a ‘race issue’ anymore than IRA terrorism was a ‘race issue’.
    IRA terrorism was about foreign policy and so was the 9/11 attack.
    I will agree though that SINCE 9/11 America and even the UK have turned it into a ‘race issue’ in the way they profile/vet anyone with a brown complexion..even if they have no connection with Islam.
    What i still can’t fathom is the attackers were from wealthy Syria/Saudi Arabia YET America didn’t choose to bomb these countries ( three guesses why not!)..they chose instead to accuse Iraq of WMD’s and it’s been genocide ever since.

  69. 70 Brent
    March 19, 2008 at 17:50

    I listened to the speech and came away with only a few things:
    Obama is still all just rhetoric
    Obama is still defending his reverend, but he doesn’t agree with him? This guy married him, converted him to Christianity (by his own admission) but he doesn’t agree with him? I mean we all know how smart Obama is supposed to be, how stupid are we supposed to be?
    As a minority even smaller than African Americans, I am insulted and offended by his clear use of race. This is what is known as “playing the race card” plain and simple
    The last thing I got from his speech is Obama gives a really good speech. With no substance no real plan of action on HOW he would address race, but he sure can talk.

  70. 71 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 17:51

    ptcbus: Most poor people are not black. A higher percentage of blacks are poor, but most poor people are not black. Most poor people are white, because the vast majority of Americans are white. If you’ve never seen poverty before, go to places like West Virginia.


    “Race: Blacks and Hispanics suffer higher rates of poverty than whites and Asians. The poverty rate for blacks in 1998 was 26.1 percent, statistically unchanged from the year before. The poverty rate for Hispanics was 25.6 percent, down from 27.1 percent. The rate for Asians and Pacific Islanders was 12.5 percent, down from 14 percent (not a statistically significant change). The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was 8.2 percent, down from 8.6 percent. Even though the poverty rate for whites is lower than for other groups, because whites make up the largest share of the population, nearly half of the poor (46 percent) were non-Hispanic whites in 1998. “

  71. 72 Ilsa
    March 19, 2008 at 17:51

    While I agree with the gentleman from Cleveland who indicated that Rev. Wright’s remarks are typical of speech in black churches, the gentleman from Texas indicated that people were upset that this came out in the context of a pastor’s remarks. As Dave said, if Hillary Clinton or John McCain frequented a church whose pastor made similarly inflammatory remarks about blacks, you can bet there’d be a hue and a cry and a call for either to explain why they continued in that atmosphere. They’d be out of politics in a heartbeat.

    Also, comparing Obama’s speech to King’s is ludicrous. Obama is not an activist; he is not a leader seeking to address racial inequity. He is a politician, pure and simple, and this was politically expedient. If not for Wright’s remark, he’d never have made the speech.

    Dave is also right when he says that it was EDWARDS, the forgotten white guy, who made poverty and race an issue in his campaign. No one was listening and those who did thought that he must be disingenuous or a fraud.

  72. March 19, 2008 at 17:52

    The government and media can tackle race head on, but that doesn’t mean ‘America’ will. I’m not going to, and I have that right. When the black community unplugs Hip-Hop from America, lobbys to and successfully removes it from stores and the net, then we’ll talk seriously. Ya know, stop shooting us up with guns, stop breaking into our cars, stop stealing our property, stop gang-banging our daughters, turn your hat around forward and GET SERIOUS!! Otherwise, this is wasted time on deaf ears.

  73. March 19, 2008 at 17:53

    The US must discuss the state of racial relations in the nation. It’s been avoided because mainstream media/America has convinced itself that it’s a small, occasional problem. I think Katrina was such a clear example of how race can still affect ones life, and proof that race and class are intertwined here. I would also like to say that this election represents a generational struggle, but no news outlet has reported on this. Let me explain, I’m a 24 year old black male, I’ve traveled to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and I’ve always had access to the internet. My peers and I see the world completely different than the people in power now. Obama represents our view that change is needed, and we’re ready for it. My generation acknowledges that racism is still a problem, but we’re ready to tackle it now, not step by step, or in time, now. We understand that it affects us all.

  74. March 19, 2008 at 17:53

    I have a feeling that many African Americans don’t want to get beyond racism. Sometimes discrimination creates and preserves a culture and a community. I am a depressed person and in some ways I have fallen in love with depression, it is who I am, it is a much a disease as a defense. The same might be true for African Americans. I think many have fallen in love with being the victim and it has been so inculcated into their culture and church’s. It will take miracles to overcome this.

  75. 76 russ hall -- cleveland, ohio
    March 19, 2008 at 17:54

    Pamela turns backwards what Mrs. Obama said. She said that the outpouring of participation from people who had been uninvolved before his candidacy made her “proud of America again”. America is its people, isn’t it, and she was praising the fulfillment of our ideals in Barack’s candidacy and the growing involvement of more of America’s people. Who is proud of what has kept people marginalized? To the extent it was a choice of these people, it is their past choices she was not proud of.

    How long is it since MLK said “How long? Not long.” It’s about time!

  76. March 19, 2008 at 17:54

    ACTION: 10 easy steps to end racism

    damali ayo, a powerful activist on race in the US, is all about action. you can go to her web site and download a free 10-point plan for how individuals can improve race relations.

    It can be that simple.

    The plan is called ‘I CAN FIX IT! : Racism” so that people learn that this issue is in their hands and that a few simple actions can make a big difference.

    visit http://damaliayo.com to get started!

    grant buckles

  77. 78 Brett
    March 19, 2008 at 17:55

    @ Mark Jackson


    That too is the fault of the oppresive white man, didn’t you get the memo?

    I also agree with Scott’s comments and see instances daily which support his statement that “I think many have fallen in love with being the victim and it has been so inculcated into their culture and church’s. It will take miracles to overcome this. “

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  78. March 19, 2008 at 17:56

    Obama has been brave enough to take up this issue head on instead of trying to sweep it under the carpet as most people have done before.
    Obama does not have to agree with everything his preacher says. In that case the preacher could have stood for presidency instead of Obama.

  79. 80 Linda in Portland by email
    March 19, 2008 at 17:56

    I think Sen. Obama has raised “the” issue. Race is the underlying issue for all other points that have been discussed. Religion and economics are merely symptoms of the cancer of the divisiveness of the ‘them and us’ mentality that rages in America. It is not just a black and white issue. Anything that threatens the white male establishment will be taken to task and race is most significant threat.

    It is up to the US and the world to take up the debate and refuse to allow division to dissuade the path to resolution. I applaud Sen Obama for his courage to bring this to the front.

  80. 81 Terry & Joan by email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:00

    I’m a 60 year old “baby boomer” who has sadly apologized to my 28 year old son about how my generation failed in it’s heartfelt goals of ending war and of ending racism in this country.

    My son’s generation seems to be much more “color blind”, but the society as a whole is clearly way behind in righting the wrongs of the past.

    Obama’s speech yesterday reminded me of that 1960’s optimistic view of the world and gave me some new hope for this next generation with a realistic approach to what must be talked about and acknowledged before change can happen.

  81. 82 Julie P
    March 19, 2008 at 18:00

    Free speech is one of the great successes of Democracy. Because of one man’s inflammatory language, another gets to bring the often swept under the issue of race in America to front of people’s minds. This an issue that has needed talking about in rational tones, not in whispers behind closed doors.

  82. March 19, 2008 at 18:02

    the man form Cleveland only told half of the Trent Lott story.
    TRENT LOTT only lost his position as majority leader in the senate…. after the republican drubbing in 2006 he won the spot of ‘minority leader’ ….. he wasn’t ruined by his comment… he was set back….. but he regained status very quickly…. he is now retired to Mississippi and smiling all the way to the bank….
    some price he paid….

  83. 84 Winsome
    March 19, 2008 at 18:06

    You ask if America is ready to address the issues of race, and I believe that yes, we are! I get knots in my stomach when I hear remarks like the one your caller Nancy made, where she said she thought Obama was making his campaign focus one of race instead of “the bigger issue of the economy”. That shows me that she’s not hearing what he’s been saying throughout his campaign- and there’s a difference between “listening” and “hearing”. He was simply addressing the race issue honestly, as it’s been raised and definitely needs to be addressed. Clinton Camp I’m sure is delighted by listeners like Nancy who remain ignorant in their understanding of Obama’s position. For the record- because I know it matters-I’m a 34 year old white woman who is more excited about Barack Obama than I’ve been about any candidate since the start of my voting years.

  84. 85 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 18:09

    @ Brett

    I think the PC thought crime police are going to come to get you! Shhh! More things, beyond the illegitimate birth rate, is also that most violent crime, the the reasons why US cities have such high homicide rates, is due to black on black violence. Yet nobody, not even the black community, speaks out against this. If this crime didn’t exist, the US would have murder rates comparable to european cities. It’s funny that people would rather be PC, and not point something out, than save lives. Oh well, that’s your choice to make I guess. shows what you value more.

  85. March 19, 2008 at 18:12

    To respond to two contributors:

    (1) there is an important distinction between race bias at the individual level and institutional, legal, systematic discrimination on the basis of race, which African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native-Americans, but not Caucasians, in the US have experienced and which has made racism in America difficult to eradicate; and

    (2) unfortunately, few Americans have received adequate information about the tragic history of US clandestine operations (not mere policy positions) in the Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa and are understandably surprised at the level of frustration and anger some foreigners have in connection with the US; and relatively few foreigners have experienced the beauty of the American people first-hand and inside the US.

    Further, Rev. Wright’s comments do not transcend the race problem. We needn’t wait for future generations to “solve” the race problem. We don’t actually need to solve the race problem. We need to transcend the race problem by choosing, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally, to apply the ancient remedy for old wounds: mutual, sincere, respect. A writer recently said that respect is the true global currency, not money, not status, not arms, not oil. I would add that it is also the dearest.

  86. 87 savane
    March 19, 2008 at 18:13

    Race is one of the pillars of the US’ existence. It’s everywhere! I didn’t realise I was ‘black’ until I went to university in the US. I’d never defined myself by race before until I applied to US universities. I always ticked the ‘other box’ and wrote ‘African’. Every form I filled asked for my race. I’m not black, I’m brown (and was also labelled ‘high yellow’) – how could an African be so light-skinned? And was frequently asked by militant African-Americans, ‘Did the white man rape your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother?!’ I always replied ‘None! Never happened! You’ve got to stop reading Tintin! Africans aren’t pitch-black with large red lips with bone piercings through their noses!’
    Being defined constantly by race meant different things to different Americans and interestingly, I’ve heard the same comments made about Sen. Obama:
    – some African-Americans felt knowing me, made them close to the Motherland, Africa;
    – some African-Africans didn’t like me because my ancestors sold theirs to the ‘white man’ and had denied them their roots. I’m from Kenya (East Africa)- the slaves sold to the US came from West Africa;
    – the most unusual group were some non-African-Americans who would introduce me as Savane, and then caveat the introduction with ‘she’s from Africa’. I was always fascinated to see facial expressions change and interaction was more positive because I assumed, I wasn’t from the US or when they heard my convent-trained English.
    I’ve heard people say Obama has a better chance of winning the presidency because he ‘knows where he comes from’!
    When I read Sen. Obama’s speech, I heard a presidential candidate speak passionately about what the US has to offer the US, and determining a person’s contribution based on their race, is counterproductive.
    Nairobi, Kenya

  87. 88 Will Rhodes
    March 19, 2008 at 18:14

    George – I put a link there for you to click if you wish – the condensed version is in the question that I asked after saying I had blogged about a ‘related’ subject. Which was New York’s banning of the ‘N’ word.

    I didn’t and don’t want to hijack this discussion so I left the link for people to read and comment on there rather than here – again, it is up to those who read or not read my blog.

    I certainly am not forcing you to click a link, that is a choice for you to make.

  88. 89 Tom via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:14

    I think that we can expect a very dirty political campaign from the American Conservative right, using every fear mongering and hate mongering technique available, that is how they keep themselves in power.

    Obama is very popular, a Populist, and let’s remind ourselves that Bush fired a shot across his bow when he denounced Populism in his State of the Union speech.

    I see the Obama speech as a well done defensive move, just the start of a hard campaign.

    Bend, OR

  89. 90 Ervin via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:16


    I’ve heard a couple of times now callers asking about what action needs to be taken and indeed asking Barak Obama to propose steps that should be taken to resolve issues of racial inequality in the US.

    In my opinion, the action that needs to be taken right now is dialogue itself. Open discussions of race and discrimination are the only way that we will ever acheive any semblence of racial equality. Putting policies in place before having a thorough dialogue is ‘putting the cart before the horse’.

    Consequently, I am overjoyed to have heard this topic being addressed openly and thoughtfully for perhaps the first time in decades by a person with such mainstream appeal as Senator Obama. He is in a unique position to normalize such discussions, and though I’m sure he would have preferred not to have had to make this speech, I believe that he has identified himself as a person that can help guide our country through this difficult topic.

    Take care and keep up the great work,
    San Francisco, CA USA

  90. 91 Ann via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:17

    I don’t understand where the woman caller was coming from who could not see that Barack Obama is bringing the races more together. I am so excited (I’m part Asian, mostly white) I’m sending my check to the Obama campaign today. This is the great moment in history that so many Americans have been hoping for, for most of our lives (since we were old enough to realize what’s right, I mean.) It was a tremendous speech that Senator Obama gave. I’ve been reading his autobiography, which he wrote as a much younger man. And it, too, is incredibly heart-felt and brilliantly unifying. Obama is also the man with the heart and mind who actually has the potential to bring the western nations and the mideastern ones closer together.

  91. 92 Paul via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:19

    My own feeling on Senator Obama’s speech is that it once again defines him as intelligent and emotionally mature. Senator Obama has diffused every attack with honest and intelligent responses. He has shown his political courage by repudiating his ministers statements and at the same time not condemning the man himself.

    We Americans seem to feel safest when everything is in black and white relief. Senator Obama’s discussion of race was honest and points out a man who has spent time thinking about such issues. He is not an empty vessel awaiting a political advisor’s advice on how to respond to issues. He does not have the answer for racial issues in this country, but he does have the courage to bring it up.

    The question I think he is asking is: Do Americans have the collective courage to have this discussion and come up with solutions?

    I think Senator Obama has the intelligence, the ethical base and the maturity to lead this country and undo some of the damage caused by our present mediocre administration.

    Portland, Oregon

  92. 93 Tim via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:22

    It gave me great hope hear Obama’s speach. Instead of the sound bytes and network exit poles about race numbers in Mississippi, Obama seemed to believe that Americans might actually have an adult conversation about this obvious condition (racism in America).

    It’s not a simple issue, nor is Iraq, nor is the economy. These things will not change without serious, grownup, more than 20 second, dialogues. Bravo to Obama for having the “audacity” to think that American’s might have reached a point where we’re ready to start addressing the serious issues that affect us all in a real and meaningful way.

    Tim in San Francisco – KALW

  93. 94 YoungMi
    March 19, 2008 at 18:23

    Based on the defense that Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments are typical of African-American churches- I’m led to the conclusion that racism against anyone not black is endemic and so taken for granted that it’s not worthy or comment or consternation in black churches.
    Again, let me ask, is it okay for David Duke to say the same type of things as long as he says it from a pulpit?

  94. 95 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 18:23

    Paul: The vast majority of politicians don’t write their speeches. I doubt he wrote that, and I’m sure every speech you hear every other candiate speak is written by a speech writer. It’s kind of like how senators and congressmen don’t write the bills they introduce. They have a congressional legislative service draft the bill, based upon what they want, but they get the credit for writing the law. I know this because I was considering taking a job drafting legislation. And yes, it sounds like a very boring job, hence why I didn’t take it.

  95. March 19, 2008 at 18:24

    Kabiru from Nigeria

    I think Obama has the potential to carry on with what Sir Martin Jr left, but I dont think his speech has reached the I HAVE A DREAM speech.

  96. 97 Addy via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:25

    Hello.It’s important for race relations to be highlighted as such discussions have a proclivity to diffuse any pent-up tension

  97. 98 Ellen via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:26

    Actually, I think you are misinterpreting the weight of Barack Obama’s statement “race is an issue that America cannot ignore.” Actually, the point of his speech was that focusing only on race in this election would be devisive. Rather, he was emphasizing that we need to come together on common political issues that affect all races: health care, jobs, education. Because of race in America, he had to address race in order to continue to move beyond it. He definitely was not trying to start a national dialogue on race – that would be extremely destructive to his presidential race. Unfortunately, by the way you have framed the question, you have put it in a certain light that may bring it negative publicity. People are not looking for a racial catharsis right now – just the best candidate.


  98. 99 Bubba
    March 19, 2008 at 18:28

    Yes race should definitely be a top issue in the United States because people are out right ignorant about how offensive they could be to other races. Just about two weeks ago, one of my white college classmates made a comment about Africa, and when I confronted him about the situation, he apologized by saying “I apologize for offending your sensitivity.” That shows how rude and arrogant people in the United States can become when they offend others, and all they could do is to give an arrogant apology. By the way I am an African student in the United States.

  99. 100 Antonio
    March 19, 2008 at 18:29

    Senator Obama, is a candidate for not must the Presidency of The United States, but more importantly he is a candidate for the return of real Government. He bring with him the true essence of what it means to be a Statesmen.

    Antonio. Ann Arbor Michigan.

  100. 101 Paul via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:29

    I’m white. White people are good people, but we are all racist. Ending racism is the most important task of our time.

    Utrecht, Netherlands

  101. 102 Jennifer via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:30

    I think the attitude of the Marcy who called from Detroit is typical of that which angers some/many white/non Black Americans. She said that the kinds of things that are said in Black churches are justified because Black Americans deal with racism every day. ALL PEOPLE deal with racism every day – Black, White, Latino, Asian – the simple sad truth is that we are a world divided.

    I have attended AME services and I disagree that these kinds of statements (those made by Rev Jeremiah Wright) bring healing. People are motivated by this kind of message by raising anger and resentment about perceived injustice. I have seen the anger with my own eyes. In a sense, people are being built-up by tearing others down and that’s wrong.

    Jennifer, Los Angeles

  102. 103 Chernor Jalloh
    March 19, 2008 at 18:30

    It is good to talk about racial discremination in America,but who is going to listen to such speech?And if there are others who will want to listen to it,is it going to change anything over night?Iam not quite sure at all given that the seeds of racism had long been planted and they are still germinating and the blacks are now reaping what was sown since the law of Jim Crow was passed that were aimed to weed off the blacks into public places mainly frequented by whites(BARS,RESTAURANTS,PUBLIC TRASPORTS AND SUPERMARKETS etc. etc)but thanks fully to civil rights activists the gruesome laws were put to rest.And we can not say there are hundred percent racism since that time in the US,but we can say racism is gradually fading away.I think,racism in America does start from the top downwards just like the apartheid era in South Africa and uptill now Israel against the Palestinians.(www.occupation 101.com).

    Barack Obama´s ambition is to bring all colours together and help build a brighter future for all Americans.I think by condeming his former pastor the Rev Jeremiah Wrighte´s speech on 11/9 as a repecussion to the US foreign foreign policy and some people are bent on racism against blacks in the US,Mr Wright has now done more harm than good for Obama as he is of a mixed race.Mr Wright has seen a lot and heard a lot that is why he could not keep quiet any longer.The worst of it all is when some people read through the lines of Obama´s speech and that can hardly help him beat his rival Hilary Clinton to be the democratic candidate for the white house in November of this year.

    So,my appeal to the good American people is that just give a race a go and turn deaf ears to those who will want to stir up trouble,because you have a long way to go.Long live America,and short live racism whereever it may be.

  103. 104 Antonio
    March 19, 2008 at 18:31

    Senator Obama, is a candidate for the Presidency of The United States, but more importantly he is a candidate for the return of real Government. He bring with him the true essence of what it means to be a Statesmen.

    Antonio. Ann Arbor Michigan.

  104. 105 Kay
    March 19, 2008 at 18:34

    It is fantastic that this issue is being addressed! Although I’m told it’s there as white amaerican I do not see much white on minority racism. I do, however, often see the reverse. Perhaps this will help the nation realize that being white does mean it’s your fault. If Obama isn’t responsable for effecting change on Mr. wright then why is it my responsability to address a white racist.

  105. 106 T. R. via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:36


    The biggest problem in the racial divide in the United States today is not racial bias of white on black. It is the reverse racism, the persecution complex, the conspiracy paranoia of African-Americans who have not or do not want to rise up to the Middle Class.

    Reverend Wright, who may be a fervent believer in Christ, has allowed his experience to lead him to crackpot views of reality. Aids is not an American conspiracy. American Foreign Policy is a result of the squeaky wheel syndrome, not planned to destroy Africa. Every human being who has to work for his daily bread feels the burden of not controlling his fate — it not something exclusive to African Americans.

    When persons of color stop thinking of themselves as African American and start calling themselves American (who just happen to have a good suntan), only then will racism end.

    T. R.
    Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A.

  106. 107 Ryan from Washington DC
    March 19, 2008 at 18:36

    Black people are different then other races in America … less we forget.

  107. 108 steve
    March 19, 2008 at 18:37

    @ paul:

    “I’m white. White people are good people, but we are all racist. Ending racism is the most important task of our time.

    Utrecht, Netherlands”

    I have to respectfully disagree because you are making many generalizations. First you say whites are good people. There are plenty of bad whites, and plenty of bad people amongst the other races. In fact, I would pretty confidently state that most people are bad, hence why we have police forces, otherwise there would be anarchy.

    Second, you said all white people are racist. I probably don’t need to comment any further. But are you saying that other racists aren’t or cannot be racist too, assuming what you say is true?

  108. 109 Kennie
    March 19, 2008 at 18:39

    We just have to accept fact that we on our way there. The dream of martin luther king for sure come to pass in all angles,
    Kennie, Nigrian in Malaysia

  109. 110 Paul via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:40

    All Reverend White did was decry American hypocrisy both at home and abroad, and the injustice we visit upon the lesser among us, and those seen as different. His tone was fire and brimstone, in a nation that freaked when Howard Dean let loose with an unexpected whoop. But the Reverend did not say anything bad, or even hateful. At the worst, his “God Damn America” line was specifically aimed at the nauseous tendency of Americans to self righteously intone “God Bless America” both as if we actually deserve such blessings, and to me, what sounds like a
    talisman, to ward of something more the opposite. Barak Obama’s
    flight from the preacher’s words tells me that Barak isn’t the great healer he says he is, and that he isn’t that well equipped to go up against the Republican attack machine.

    San Francisco

  110. 111 Maggie via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:41

    I was raised a Catholic in California. While I do not agree with everything about the Catholic Church, I do agree with everything my “spiritual advisor” has to say. He is a Franciscan and truly a loving accepting positive person.

    The words that came from Barack Obama’s spiritual adviser’s mouth were ignorant and hate filled. If my spiritual advisor said such things or promoted such thoughts, he would not only no longer be my advisor, he would no longer be my friend. Period.

    While we need to heal racial problems, hate heals nothing. Making excuses for it in a purported leader is unacceptable. Period

  111. 112 Ajay via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:41

    Yes I think what Obama has said is right and he is honest in what he has said and America must talk about the issue of race.His speech can actually act as an unifying force for all the Americans.What America is today is not only because of White Ameicans but Black Americans have also played their part.At the same time it is very sad that America has still not recognized the dreams of Martin Luther.
    Ajay from Kathmandu,Nepal

  112. 113 Kennie
    March 19, 2008 at 18:42

    We just have to accept the fact that we on our way there as black people all over the world. The dream of Dr.Martin luther King will come to pass in all angles of human endevour.

    Nigerian from Malaysia

  113. 114 Jeffrey-Edmund Curry
    March 19, 2008 at 18:46

    The vast majority of white Americans are tired of hearing about race and the vast majority of non-white Americans can think of nothing else. We would all be better off trying to achieve personal success rather than group penance or progress.

  114. 115 Paulo
    March 19, 2008 at 18:46

    I was very moved by Obama’s speech, but I think we need to also start expanding the dialogue to include all racial groups.. not only in their victimhood but also in their complicity in perpetuating racism. It seems to me, as an American of caucasian Latin American descent, that whites have been held to a very high standard (and rightly so) whereas other ethnic groups have not. I can say from personal experience that Hispanics and other Latin American nationalities, are essentially given a free pass on their racism. And there is racism there. I’ve seen it first hand on my visits to Brazil, and I’ve heard the stories from my father from there. I’ve also seen instances of Hispanic racism here in New Jersey towards whites and blacks. I’ve seen instances of racism by the large Korean population here too… to the point where the Koreans formed their own PTA in one town because they didn’t want to be in the PTA with Americans. I have Korean friends who were persecuted by other Koreans for associating with whites. All of this MUST be included in the discussion! Everyone must be held to a high standard if we want to reach a post-racial society. We can’t just continuously blame whites as the only source of racism in America because if we were to wipe out racism amongst whites, we’d get a rude awakening that racism was still present in other groups.


    Paterson, New Jersey

  115. 116 Rev. Alfred via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:49

    I have listed to and read the speech given by Senator Obama, I must say without a doubt this man is the answer for this country. I have read most of the writings by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King while working in the MLK Commission in Washington D. C.and I find a similar tone of voice at another time and place. Dr. King would be very proud Of Sen. Obama with this very clear and truthful speech.

    Martin’s speeches cause fear and anger doing his time as well. Blacks and Whites keep a distance from a man of God then as well. Those pyridine’s, and comfort zones prevent change. The absolute training of negative thinking by subjects written in the news paper and on television and radio. Negative information sales, positive information will not cause ones head to turn. Science has shown we can remember a negative event in our lives more forcefully than a positive one. The media has been and will aways be a negative and powerful tool to divide the masses.

    This media as we know it finds pleasure in focusing on the negative and fear. Some in our society think in the negative vain, primarily because of the way some have been taught. We are a positive people and must attempt to become more caring and positive in our thinking and teaching to our children.

    In this speech I heard reason and balance of King Solomon, in reference to time. No one under the sun is perfect, certainly Rev. Dr. Wright or myself. But what we do have is a chance to make a change in this society that is not divisive. No one in my mind at present could have handled this matter better than Sen. Obama.

    The most important factor in this whole matter is Sen. Obama represents many hue’s in this nation. This man has balance and is very respectful of all our pains and suffering. Our Suffering Lord has again placed in front of this nation, his children, the answer to many a persons prayers. The question is this. Will we accept what the Lord is sending, or out of fear of change turn and hold onto our separate negative taught comfort zones.

    The children of the future need a level playing field, where it is ok to be moral and respectful. Men and women working in a positive vain to establish a family that is whole. Reverse the selfish vain of negative factors that have ruled this nation for so long. “The People…” that is what this election is all about. We can make a change, “yes we can”

    This not a speech like Dr. King’s “I have a dream.” That was another time and place, we are in another area where action can be taken by all people, not just one race. It is the fear of change from what some think is the norm to a new horizon for all people.

    Rev. Alfred

  116. 117 Paul via email
    March 19, 2008 at 18:51


    If we don’t talk about race, how are we ever to get beyond this plague that has been a corrosive agent against the very structure of this nation, since its inception?

    If the attacks of 9/11 were not in retaliation for American foreign policy, what? It was our blind support of Israel, against our utter refusal to consider, let alone deal with the suffering of the Palestinian people that was a key motivator of Obama and company.

    Black America needs to have a discussion amongst itself as much as Americans in general, and white Americans specifically need to have a discussion on race. When the topic of Bill Cosby’s remarks came up, both the speakers who discussed them, neglected to mention that Mr.
    Cosby was bitterly attacked by the black community for daring to air such remarks in the first place. All too often, black people who dare to raise the shortcomings of the black community are attacked by the black community. Race plays a big role in the U.S., but among blacks in particular, there is also a tendency to work against each other, not work together. I’ve heard too many black adults telling their kids, or speaking in the presence of others including black youth, that “it doesn’t matter what you do, the (white person, white people, whites, ‘The Man’) is going to take it away from you; hardly a recipe for instilling any sense of respect or self worth among the
    youth. Also, whenever one points to successful black people, which
    nowadays reaches to the highest levels of this Republican administration–hardly one that inspires images of open mindedness– we are told that they have no street credibility. Apparently, only gangsta rappers and basket ball players can reach America’s black youth, which is ridiculous. Obama seemed like the man, at least until he began to run from the remarks of the Reverend Mr. White.

    San Francisco

  117. 118 Justin from Iowa
    March 19, 2008 at 18:57

    The political arena is the next level beyond church and public discussion. You need power to enact change. The public movement has gone as far as it can, now we need to move this issue to the next level of leadership to move forward.

  118. 119 Martha Maria-Louisa
    March 19, 2008 at 18:59

    I love this discussion. Thank you. And thank you Sen. Obama. Is anyone on the show familiar with Joel Kovel’s White Racism? – which treats racism on historical and psychological levels.
    Yes, in response to Austin newsman caller – we do need to discuss this politically, especially politically.
    Thank you,
    Martha Maria-Louisa
    Austin, TX

  119. 120 Tommy C.
    March 19, 2008 at 19:08

    This is so stupid.
    The whole race issue is HISTORY! There are no more slaves, as in white people sitting around being cooled off by a black man and a really big feather. Now we just have underground sex slaves and they come in all races…..so not racist I guess. In the past (because we seem to want to re-live it all over again) racism and slaves were as common as your urine and feces in the streets. Don’t EVEN get me started on religions role in all this mess. I live and work with whites, blacks, and all other races imaginable, AND we all laugh together! This is not about race, it’s about what it has ALWAYS been about……….power & greed!!!

  120. 121 melinda
    March 19, 2008 at 19:11

    Hello WHYS folks: As a 65-year old white widow living in Portland, Oregon (a mashed-potato city (one that is predominantly white, but which drew me because of the predominant color – green! Trees, trees, trees!)) who has been concerned about racism (or any form of prejudice) since i was seven years old in Memphis, Tennessee, i am so relieved, proud, happy, and hopeful that Senator Obama has put this issue out there for meaningful discussion.

    As a 7-year old transplant to the south from southern California, i was not aware of color lines and who should be on which side of the line. When i first arrived in Tennessee, the only person near my age was a little boy who lived next door (white). His mother recognized that i was kinda’ smart and asked me to fill in when one of the canasta ladies couldn’t make it to their game. i did so and thought i was a big deal and in high favor with Eddie’s mother.

    That is until i walked home from the movie theatre with a little girl (African-American) that i knew because her mother was helping my mother as she adjusted to a newborn. We were both headed to my house; i was headed home and she was meeting her mother to go to their home. No big deal, right?

    Wrong! The next day when i knocked on the neighbor’s door to ask the young boy if he could come out to play, his mother shouted from somewhere in the house: “Eddie – who is at the door?” He replied with my name. She then shouted: “Well you just tell that little ‘nigger lover’ that she isn’t welcome here and you cannot play with her.” That was a huge shock to the sensibilities of a seven-year old who had arrived from southern California less than a month earlier. i was so surprised that i almost couldn’t think of what she was talking about. But, it is she i must thank for preparing me for the anguish i would feel for the rest of my life when confronted with prejudice, hatred, unkind words based on racial differences. But the path i chose differs from Senator Obama’s. i forced myself to stand up (literally) to question and confront prejudicial and hateful remarks whenever i heard them. i did not seek out situations that could be exploited and allow me an opportunity to object. It was not necessary to do so. There were and are (sadly) way too many opportunities to speak out against the words being uttered, shouted, written, thought. Senator Obama has now given me (and millions of other Americans) a place where individuals can enter the discussion of race with folks of their own and other ethnic backgrounds. He has made a significant contribution to America , and history will mark his speech as one of the most crucial, believable, and authoritative on this issue.

    Thank you.

  121. 122 Scott Millar
    March 19, 2008 at 19:15

    @Paul, Utrecht.

    All people are “racists” to some degree. The human mind repeatedly makes generalizations and stereotypes input from the senses to quickly assess situations based on past experience or perceptions.

    What is important is what is done with the natural generalizations the human mind might make and how we let them affect our conscious thinking and judgements.

    -Portland, Oregon

  122. 123 Jens
    March 19, 2008 at 19:16

    i think it is equally important to talk about inclusion. the differneces are painfully obvious, just by the color of our skin. the common factors are inside and be it just the fact that all of our blood is red.

    we should focus on our common ground, while respecting our differnces. that is my i believe obama will be an infinitly better president than hillary, who is way too devisive.

  123. 124 Fonjong Terence Tah
    March 19, 2008 at 19:24


    Good day everyone,
    Fonjong Terence Tah is my name,I’m very grateful to join you on today’s programme.
    I’m very sad to hear some Americans talking about racism,in the American presidential campaign.This quirk should actually cease.If no,then we’re asking God that,why did you created some people black,and some white?The main question,Americans should ask is,who can rule well?This question can only be answered by God.He knows everything about us.No human being,can hide from him.Wisdom is a gift from God.For anyone to rule successfully,God has an upper hand,in his career.All I’ve in mind is that,any man or woman can rule America.By the will of God,and no by his own authority.Some people believe,that no one can excise authority over them.But we should remember that,there is someone above us.God’s eyes are on us.Americans should choose,who can lead them well,and stop asking questions whether a black or a woman can rule them.Races shouldn’t be the major point in the American presidential campaign.No one can question this question now,whether who can rule well.Only God can give the right answer to this question.

    Well, that is all I’ve,as my own contribution.God willing,I’ll join you tomorrow,for another edition.

    Fonjong Terence Tah is my name.
    Have a lovely day.Goodbye.

  124. 125 YoungMi
    March 19, 2008 at 19:26

    Olabisi, read your history. Caucasians have been plenty discriminated against in America. 19th century America was deeply prejudiced against the Irish. Remember all those signs saying “No dogs, no Irish”? And what about Jews and Italians? Why are there such a plethora of Polish jokes, aka “Pollack”? I agree with another blogger that America’s racism is more about America’s cultural prejudices.

  125. 126 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 19:43

    Obama is just defending himself from the Clinton campaign attacks using race.

    The Republicans are very happy to have Clinton smear Obama and gut the eagerness of the American people to get the Republicans out of office after the last 7 years debacles.

    Debating race and race issues are misdirection from the presidential campaign.

    The only hope the Republicans have of keeping the White House is to get Hillary as the democratic nominee.

  126. March 19, 2008 at 19:44

    I think that in order to form a perfect union, people will have to unite as one nation under two truly American Political Parties that embraces ALL Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, religion. The two parties are the Libertarian and Green Party since it has been the Republican and Democratic Party who have been using race, ethnic, and class division to push the USA on the brink of a civil war based on race and ethnicity.

  127. 128 Marsha
    March 19, 2008 at 20:00

    I am so impressed with everyone’s willlingness to say what they are thinking. There are so many potent comments it’s hard to respond.

    My brain keeps screaming …. Why do we use the term …”A person of color” … as if that does not include light skinned people …my skin might be lighter than most people born on the African continent but I have color … in my skin and heart and soul … why do we equate race and culture as one in the same thing …clearly they are not …. I was born and raised in New Mexico, USA, I love enchildas and green chili … those things are a part of my culture even tho my race would be catagorized as some form of white (Irish, Scotts, Polish, German, Scandinavian … who knows) Race does not determine beliefs and attitudes, character and values … culture does … we are enculturated by our environments, people places, things, schoolchurches etc …

    I am insensed at those that keep saying only Obama … only a person of color could open up this discussion on race …. IT”S NOT ABOUT RACE … it’s about the cultural brain washing that we each and everyone have expreienced … and if you think white people have not experienced discrimination at the hands of other white people the you need to talk to some Irish or Italian or Polish immigrants …the cultural brain washing we are experiencing might (and I mean might) have beed started by white men but with out a doubt the real issue is afluence … money … haves and have nots and now days there are rapidly growing numbers of all races that are entering the “haves” group and they are just as defensive about the world of “have nots” as the old rich white guys were … I am certain that if you looked at who got out of New Orleans …you will find there were “rich” black people who paid their way out just like there were rich white people who did …

    The issue is not racism it is rankism and we have all been brain washed to look at the people of color cuz it such an easy distraction from the truth.

  128. 129 George USA
    March 19, 2008 at 20:02

    Is it good for America to talk about race?

    It is bad for Obama and the democratic party to have the campaign side tracked to race.

    Look at the comments above- all missing what race is being used for.

    Clinton has used Geraldine to distract with race.

    The Clinton campaign is trying to make sure Obama does not get the nomination, but the use of race baiting also tries to make Obama unelectable in a general election.

    In racebaiting, Clinton is doing something bad for the Democrats and bad for America.

    She is trying to prevent Democrats from winning the White House, unless they give her the nomination.

    Rather than blackmail the Democratic party to grab the nomination.

    Hillary Clinton has shown herself unfit for the nomination or the presidency.

  129. 130 Jens
    March 19, 2008 at 20:32

    I’m white. White people are good people, but we are all racist. Ending racism is the most important task of our time.

    Utrecht, Netherlands

    Count me out of the rascist pool, please. hence your statement is wrong.

    how can you come-up with such a sweeping statement? just because you and your white friends are racists, does not make all whites racists. your statment is an insult to millions of good people.

  130. 131 Allison
    March 19, 2008 at 21:01

    Senator Obama’s speech yesterday is of course subject to critique, but only as any speech that addresses head-on the history as well as the present state of race and class in the United States. I appreciated that Obama did not take the easy political path yesterday — he did not disavow Reverend Wright. Instead, he argued that he and Wright differ (and have often in the past differed) in their beliefs about race and racism, equality, social justice, foreign policy, and the experience of being African American in the United States.

    All of us need to listen to a speech like this carefully — every line (not just the snippets reprinted in the media) — before rushing to judgment. It seems to me that the speech was imperfect — of course — but also courageous. Why should any political candidate be aligned completely with every person that has every influenced them, supported them, or had a role in their life. Many of us have fathers, mothers, teachers, spouses, lovers, children, etc. with whom we disagree profoundly on those hardest of issues – race, economics, war, environment, religion, and the list goes on.

    I admire Obama for speaking yesterday to so many different American experiences — for acknowledging that within every racial community there is shared experience but also many internal differences just as their are both deep divisions and much common ground across communities in this country. It seemed to me a watershed speech — one that opens up a new way of talking about race and inequity (but also about class and economics) in this country.

  131. 132 Ingé Eveleigh
    March 19, 2008 at 21:57

    My original attempt to reply got lost, so here i AM again as the only one it seems from the UK. I was left breathless, & tearful @ the intense humanity, intelligence, & insight of the replies on this pge. I am heading into my 80’s, & was @ the time of my birth unusual as a British/English, citizen. the daughter of an English woman born in Jamaica, who died when I was five. My father was Romanian, & I was born in Paris. I ws unaware that such a thing as racism existed, until i started growing up. My first shock was that my father was ‘ deeply raciist’. @ the age of 15. I went to work at a day/nursery for w/end pocket money. Our staff nurse was a wonderful Jamaican woman & warming to her I proudly announced to her that my mother had been born in Jamaica. When i got home I proudly, once again told my father that I had told our Jamaican s/nurse of my mother’s origin, & guess what, he was absolutely furious!. I really didn’t understand the problem . Growing up & marriage soon taught me as time went on what racism meant. My 1st. husband went to work in central Africa. On our arrival @ CApe Town It hit me nose on, what racism meant The horror of the treatment of the blacks working in the docks, & airports stunned me, it was like meeting the worst of any human being. I had only a few yrs. back got used to the background my father had come from in Europe with the disappearance of my grandparents into a concentration camp, & here was another branch of the inhuman race. Later, while I was working in C. AFri ca, my husband came home to say we had been invited to dinner with a family called the Labuschagnes. Nice I thought. He was more sophisticated than I was . He knew what was going to happen. He had told them that my mother was born in Jamaica, quite deliberately, No dinner!. The ‘Labuschagnes’ were actually the S. African ‘Labuscahnes’ pronounced in the Germanic form. As many South Africans did when they came north, not to offend the sensitive Brits!. So, racism was deeply entrenched in my father’s psyche, how could he be so angry that I had let the cat out of the bag, about his wife, my mother, & yet escaped from the German Holocaust to England because of the ‘other’ racism of Jewishness!. WE human beings seem to find it hard even now to value difference. I have an Ethiopian friend a very very brave man, & yet people are scared to talk to him, & he would be left to his own inadequate devices, if I had not helped him along the way. W hy?. I want to challenge the people who are also my friends, but they don’t understand. Yes, you have a prob;lem, & we have a problem, but judging by your responses I think yo are facing up t o them better than we are & better than almost anyone else I know of. I hope to see Barack Obama able to cope with ths change in the political climate. I think it is an absolutely wonderful opportunity. FAce it bravely you Yanks!!.

  132. 133 Syed Hasan Turab
    March 19, 2008 at 22:11

    Overall America as a continent dont have segration problems only USA have these problem because of the folloiwing reasons:-
    (a) Best human charter of the world.
    (b) Always been abused by Democratly elected representatives.
    (c) Corrupt Legislators.
    (d)Bias & Dual standard of Laws.
    Even Oboma got elected nothing is going to change, he will be a most helpless person on the earth unless old politicians, lobbiest’s around white house, senate & congress fixed a tenure or time limt to stay specially in Congress & Senate, otherwise USA will be a Democratic desaster of the world.

  133. 134 Syed Hasan Turab
    March 19, 2008 at 22:45

    Talking about common public problems is essental for any society, specially raceism is the mother of public problems in USA, atleast Oboma open the doors of public debate, I hope he will suceed to conveyance Citizens about this core issue which always been ignored in the past and directly effect minorities of USA, dosent matter African Americans, Spanish, portoricans & Muslims.
    According to my observation strong public agenda along with public problems/ suffering’s will help a lot to USA may not be good for each & every politician of White House, any way for sake of USA every one is ready to sacrifice & gaveup personal agenda of segration.

  134. 135 Chris Clarke-Williams
    March 20, 2008 at 14:11


    I did not say that American Foreign policy justified the 11/9 attacks merely that it provoked them. If we in the West effectively carry out a war against ordinary people in another part of the world whether by proxy or by direct intervention of our own forces we should not be surprised if they fight back. If we deny the other side’s sense of grievance and try to claim they actually do not have grievances we are not going to look at ourselves and see if we can change.

    The problem is that each side then tries to outdo the other in a sort of a leg for a tooth type of tit for tat retaliation. We were not really any better than Al Queda, were we, they bombed the USA, so we invaded two Middle Eastern countries. Perhaps 11/9 justified the Afghanistan operation but certainly not Iraq. They murdered 4000 and feel no remorse our politicians murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and claim they also feel no remorse and not need to apologise.

    We need to be careful what we sow, our actions cause other people to feel that they would like to react. In the case of the Arab Muslim world they feel powerless against western military might and are clearly not able to stop us invading their countries if we wish. Groups who feel powerless and disenfranchised are quite dangerous because they feel the only option they have to be heard is terrorism. They feel they have nothing left to loose so suicide missions seem a viable option as the only effective way to hit back.

    Sooner or later we must try and talk to them because the alternative is to try and kill everyone who is, might be, or may become a sympathiser and I do not think we are ready to try and do that, it would certainly make us morally far worse than they are. Every terrorist movement that has stopped has been stopped by dialogue, the sooner we start the better but it will not be easy we have managed to build up a huge amount of hatred fueled by misplaced religious fervour its a heady and dangerous mix.

    If we refuse to talk to those who we think are our enemies whether its Hammas Hezbullah, Al Queda, The Green Party or any other group of crackpots we have set our relationship with them on a dangerous course.

    It was Winston Churchill who said Jaw Jaw is better than War War how right he was.

  135. 136 Justin from Iowa
    March 20, 2008 at 14:26

    Sadly Chris, your assumption is that every terrorist wants to talk and compromise. They don’t.

    But its also true you don’t stop terrorists by trying to kill the terrorists and not treating the base problems which inspired them in the first place. That just produces martyrs and more recruits.

    Only by treating the core root problems which inspired the original terrorism, bringing the local population into the fold, will in the end cause any progress.

  136. 137 steve
    March 20, 2008 at 17:51

    @ Chris:

    You still seem to not hold them up to the same standards of civility you apparently hold yourself and me up to. Why? I have serious problems with the actions of Iran, and Iran’s policies. Yet under no circumstances would I do anything that would involve targetting Iranian civilians.

    Say if I did. Say if I did target Iranian civilians. Would you say what I did was terrible, but would then look into the reasons why I did it, so you could understand why I did it? No, you know you wouldn’t. I would just be called a terrorist and rightfully so.

    How long is the statute of limitations on these grievances? Forever? Apparently just being on “muslim” soil is enough to be hated forever. Should I hate the British for burning Washington, DC back in 1814? I mean, I do go to Washington, DC every single day. I was born less than one mile outside of washington, DC, and the British burned it. Should I have to resentment and teach it to my kids?

    i think you see my point, and that I think we need to stop having different standards for different people. stop teaching hatred, stop conducting violent acts based upon “grievances”. Sure, the invasion of Iraq is very recent, but given the foreign fighters there, who aren’t Iraqi, that’s more of just an intolerance of someone being not of the same religion being on the soil of a nation that is majority of one religion…. they aren’t even iraqis! It’s all about hatred!

    I was just listening to a show on the BBC about christian iraqi refugees in Sweden, because they were threatened with death for not being Muslim!

    Time to stop make excuses for hatred and the violence that goes along with it. NOTHING justifieds terrorism. I don’t care what grievance they have, NOTHING justifies targetting civilians, and frankly, nobody but a fellow terrorist would care about that grievance.

    Stop the double standards. You know you wouldn’t look to my reasons if I committed a terrorist act. Even when there were abortion clinic bombings, the churches came out and condemned it and didn’t say “yes, we condemn it, but…” Enough double standards. Either expect civility for everyone, or say you don’t think people can be civil.

  137. 138 Robert, Canada
    March 20, 2008 at 19:01

    Certainly, it should be discussed. Have gone over the comments but have not found the notion that enough scientific researches have proven the term “race” is no longer valid and should be eliminated from usage. This is what should be talked and taught to all.

  138. 139 Jens
    March 20, 2008 at 21:29

    Robert, Canada,

    there is nothing wrong with the term race. it only becomes a problem when you add the appendage -ism.

    There are genetic differences between the different races, which manifest themselves not only in phenotype but als predispositions to different diseases etc.

    by eliminating a term, one does not address a problem, one just eliminates the term.

  139. 140 kpellyhezekiah
    March 20, 2008 at 22:50

    I’m really sorry I couldn’t post my comments on this topic until now, dear ros. Personally I agree with Mr. Obama and all like minded americans that they need to start taking steps to do away with racial attitudes amongst themselves. This is not only for the US but all over the world we must work hard to do away with racism. Talking about it is good but working at it is best. Everybody must be seen as God’s creation and none above the other to be given any preferencial treatment and/or discriminated against.
    However, I’m, hereby, once more saying that Mr. Obama is not the person to lead the democrats and for that matter the US now. The republicans are tacitly supporting him by highlighting him much more in their press and other news channels because they know they have no chance if Hilary should win the democrat race but will easily floor Obama when the real debates start about domestic and foreign policy isues. I’ll just for instance want to show everybody what I mean when I say this by exposing Mr. Obama’s trick in winning the hearts and souls of people easily when in actual fact he himself is just as divisive and wrong. He is the type of politicians who plays on the sentiments of people to get into power and forgets about them once they get there. They only turn round and blame “the system” for their inability to deliver.
    Mr. Obama talks about views of priests, rabbis,pastors being wrong but he fails to mention Imams ie. the muslim faith which by some statistics is the second largest religious block in america today. The question is why? And the answer is not far fetched. The man who had began telling the world that it wasn’t good to take to the extreme a few seconds earlier now says “a view like that sees the conflict in the MIDDLE EAST as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwarts allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical islam.” The man knows of Islam as a religion and so has no excuse for not mentioning their leaders ie. the Imams when he refered to the priests. But more serious is his belief that radical islam is the cause of the problems of the middle east. This shows how ignorant, bankcrupt and naive he is when it comes to foreign policies and the middle east is the hotbed of international politics. Please, all you discerning americans, know that radical islam is just a symptom of the real problems of the middle east. It will disappear immediately go away once the main problem(s) is dealt with wich basically is the inequality in the treatment of the palestinians as a group of human beings amongst other groupings in the region just as how you have the black discriminations amongst you. The man Obama is dodging the issue and playing to the gallery. He is apealing subtly to the average american who sees everything and everbody who is a muslim as a potential threat to their security and doesn’t want to be associated with such people which is wrong because the mafia is in a predominantly christian community and gangsters in christian evangelical communities. Mr. Obama is not experienced enough to be entrusted with the whole US nation. Please am appealing to u all to think deep and you’ll see the gaping inexperience that he is displaying. Why does Mrs. clinton always have a slight edge over him when it comes to debates. Think about it.

  140. 141 Robert, Canada
    March 21, 2008 at 23:01

    Jens, It is much moe constructive in talking and teaching each other about the common treats than the differences. There are more common trteats in the make-up of all living things than differences. People who bias towards the differences have a simple movtive for the exploitation the differences to gain an upper hand for whatever the situations at hand. The elimination of the word will not do much good as you have stated. However, the continuation of the exploitation can only cause more divisions. The suggestion for the elimiation is to emphasize the need to discontinue the exploitation by all. Obviously, we can never eliminate any words created.

  141. 142 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 04:12

    Maybe we [people] in the united states should have
    talk about race many years ago….but it is not
    to late!

    Dennis from Madrid, United States of America

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