Saturday, March 22, 2008

Typical White Person

In an interview on March 20, 2008 Barack Obama said the following:

The point I was making was not that grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t.

But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, you know, there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that’s just the nature of race in our society.

We have to break through it, and what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little less like that, and that’s powerful stuff.
He was trying to explain earlier remarks about his white grandmother included in a speech. The speech was an attempt to address the his pastor's racist remarks.

Among other things I wondered about his grandmother. Her name is Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham and she was born in October of 1922 in Augusta, Kansas. I thought that was interesting because that would make her 86 this year and I posted an earlier entry about race and racism that included remarks about Obama's presidential race by someone of that age.

I've also been interested in the reactions of various people about the "typical white person" comment. Most often I have heard something like "I am not personally offended but it seems a kind of double standard." I thought it interesting that so many felt the need to preface their opinion that they weren't personally offended.

I guess I feel pretty much the same way though. It seems to me that Mr. Obama discussed his grandmother's actions not so differently as I discussed my older friend's question. I grant they are different but there certainly is similarity as well.

On the other hand I am pretty certain that if a white candidate had said something about "typical black people" that there would have been a tremendous outcry. I think that's the "double standard" that a lot of people have recognized.

I listened to most of Mr. Obama's speech about race. I thought it was a good speech.

Unfortunately I do not believe he satisfactorily addressed his pastor's remarks and the fact that he remained in the church. It does seem to me to be a significant issue. I don't buy the argument that Reverend Wright's military service entitles him to curse the United States. Nor do I buy the argument that because Reverend Wright is black that he is excused from being a racist.

Comments by several of Reverend Wright's congregants that his remarks were "not extreme but just about being black in America" made me sad and less optimistic about race relations in the United States. I think we may not have come as far as I had hoped after all. I just do not see any excuse for racism.

I also do not see any excuse for such hatred to be so eagerly embraced in public speech as that by Reverend Wright. I understand free speech rights and I am not contending for censure of any kind. But people who preach hate as well as their supporters should not be rewarded. That's true whether it is directed against whites or homosexuals or women or men or Muslims or Catholics or whatever.

Surely I do understand loyalty to a friend but that's different to me than remaining in an organization like a church.

It still appears to me that Mr. Obama is almost certainly going to be the Democratic candidate for president. I just don't see exactly how Mrs. Clinton defeats him at this point. But I also recognize that politics is a tough business and the Clinton's are good at it. There's still some time before the convention.

The first convention I remember anything at all about was 1956. Well, maybe I remember the names from 1952 but I can't be certain. But 1956 I recall because that's the year we got our TV and that's the first convention covered by TV. That was the beginning of the Huntley-Brinkley report. I also remember thinking Estes Kefauver's name was kind of memorable. There was a slogan or something that had his name in it that is lost somewhere in my memory. Or it may have been something I made up. Also, Kefauver had this coonskin cap he wore sometimes and he was from Tennessee and I really liked Davy Crockett then.

Well - need to try to sleep.


nancy said...

another great post terry. i heard the speech yesterday, or at least part of it. when i heard obama say "she is a typical white person" the first thing i thought of was if someone white said, "she is a typical black person" there would be a huge backlash.

i pray that someday america and the world can live in a world without prejudice. unfortunately i don't think i will ever live to see that happen.

Lori1955 said...

These primaries are turning into a race issue. Such a sad commentary on our society. You always expect some negativity in these things but this is turning into downright hate. As far as free speech goes, I don't that should ever includes hate. How can any of these ministers call themselves men of God?

~Betsy said...

I watched an interesting round table discussion on CNN about this very topic. Apparently, according to Byron Pitts and another journalist (didn't catch his name), everyone is taking this out of context.

Byron Pitts said that white America can't possibly understand because whites have never been exposed to the life black America is. I don't know what to make of this, nor do I have an opinion to state. I'm just sharing what he said.

Whether black or white, I don't think there is room for hatred from the pulpits. Period. This is a direct opposite of what I have been taught and what I believe God wants for His people. As usual, we are getting His message all wrong.