Where is Obama's 'teachable moment' on race?
President Obama has not dwelt on race – his own or the history of racism in America. And for all the talk about 'teachable moments,' he has not encouraged a deep national discussion of the issue.
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The first was by Eric Holder shortly after he became the nation’s first black Attorney General.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Inside President Obama's White House
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Speaking to Justice Department employees as part of the department’s Black History Month program, Holder said, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
“Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race,” he continued. “It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”
Shirley Sherrod in the spotlight
Watched in its entirety – not just the controversial snippet posted by an incendiary conservative blogger – it’s a remarkable story of redemption by a black woman whose father was killed by a white man in the segregated South where such crimes often went unprosecuted.
Looking back at the civil rights movement, the Virginia Democrat (one of the more thoughtful lawmakers) argues that “a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers.”
“In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations,” he writes. “These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.”
A deep discussion on race between President Obama, Eric Holder, Shirley Sherrod, and James Webb. Now that would be a teachable moment.