Dr. Barack Obama, in an interview released today, opined that the nation remains plagued with the malady of racism, despite some deceptive outward signs of health, like discontinued use of the “N” word.
Obama offered his latest meditation about race on a podcast called “WTF.” He said:
The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened two to 300 years prior.
Ah, to have studied history in the manner of Obama, and to know such things as the length of time is takes societies to erase everything.
Probably it’s 400 years. But I, being a surface skimmer, just don’t know.
When Obama was first elected, I thought I perceived a difference in the interactions between blacks and whites. That there seemed to be less consciousness of race. It was subtle, but, I thought, apparent.
I can remember at least one person I respect confirming that they too had noticed it. The election of the first African American president, it seemed, was bringing us closer together.
I actually had a chance to share this observation with Obama himself. He nodded and smiled politely and didn’t seem to know what the Hell I was talking about.
Well, I don’t notice it anymore. And Obama is partly to blame. Because what he never understood about his historic role was that the less he – as the first black president, as the president of all of us – said about race, the more he would do for race relations in this country.
Because, yes, racism still exists. But it’s not nearly what it was, and it is certainly not what is preventing African Americans from gaining full economic and social equality. It used to be, but it isn’t anymore.
Instead of throwing in with the racial grievance crowd, Obama should have stood above it as an example of the unity that can be, of the Promised Land to which Martin Luther King aspired for all us. By taking less of the traditional civil rights role, Obama could have trailblazed a whole new path. A civil rights icon for the 21st century, one who doesn’t check his skin color every time the racial cauldron stirs.
But even such a deep thinker as our president can be lulled into perceiving things merely as black and white.