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Politics & Power

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The Face of Race and the Audacity of Hope

In what may some day be known as one of the great presidential speeches of all time Barack Obama responded to critics of his long time pastor and friend’s comments that have been all over the media regarding racism in America and the idea that the leaders of our nation and their policies are in part to blame for what happened on September 11, 2001. The speech began simply enough talking about the comments made by the preacher in one of his sermons where he says “not God bless America, God damn America!” Obama stated unequivocally that he condemned the words themselves but refused to condemn the man who said them.

As he went on to describe his relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright as being one like that to a family member he also described the things in his own childhood and upbringing that made it impossible for him to sever his ties with his former minister. He talked about his grandmother who once confessed to him that she felt uncomfortable around black men despite having the deepest love for Barack. He talked about the subtle racisms that we see every day and need to address as a nation. He talked about the anger and pain in the hearts of the African Americans who lived through the 1950’s and 1960’s in America who remember having fire hoses and dogs unleashed on them simply for wanting to be treated as equals. He spoke of the anger and pain of the workers displaced by outsourcing of jobs overseas and the anger felt toward undocumented immigrants by many. As the words came forth the reality of the man speaking was unveiled for all to see. Finally in America this land of so many ethnicities and cultures a man both white and black in his heritage had the courage to address the elephant in the room that nobody ever seems to want to talk about.

Never in my lifetime have I been truly inspired by a speech made by a politician until now. As I sat and listened to this man whom I have never met I found myself hoping beyond hope that I could live up to the standard that he set. For a moment I was pulled away from my jaded political mindset to a place of real inspiration and admiration for this skinny man with big ears who dared to speak the truth for the whole world to hear. As I wondered at this amazing man and his ability to visualize hope with the words he speaks I hoped that I could learn to recognize and put aside my fears and subtle bigotries and teach my son to do the same. As I thought of my son who will one day go out into the world as the son of an African American woman and a Caucasian man I thought that there might indeed be hope of real change for him and all the other children of color that will one day make their way out into the world. If this man born to a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas can achieve the highest office in the land then perhaps my son can too. Perhaps our children can know a time when ethnicity truly doesn’t matter any more. It is up to us who will choose our path in the here and now to decide if we will choose to hold on to our old hatreds and fears or if we will embrace the idea of all people being created equal.

When I began Reform America I said that we would not endorse political candidates and this is not an attempt to influence people’s votes. Whether you support his politics or not you should listen to the words he speaks. For the first time in my lifetime I have seen a genuine man offering great hope to a nation desperately in need of hope. I hope that people can put aside their politics for just a short time and see this for what it is. This is recognition of a great moment and opportunity in our history. This man who happens to be running for president has given us the opportunity to have a real dialog about race that is long overdue. He had the courage to talk about the issue that we all know is there but nobody wants to talk about in terms that could not be more personal. He offered the feelings from the depth of his innermost soul so that we could have a discussion we need to have about our own failings as a nation. He has started the discussion and now it is up to us to continue it.

I ask anyone who reads this article to make a point to talk to someone you might have avoided in the past because of a perception of their being different than you. For one moment try to think about your instinctive reaction and overcome it to become a better person for even just a single moment. Instead of clutching your purse more tightly when that young black man walks by you offer a friendly “Good Morning” and a smile. You might find that the return you get on your investment is immeasurable.

The richness of America comes from our diversity. Instead of being afraid of that which is different we need to celebrate the differences and bask in the glory of our wonderfully colorful nation. We have spent too long talking about how different can be scary or bad. We are all Americans and should remember that. I am proud to be an American but I know we are not perfect. We do bring much of our own misery upon ourselves and we do need to get over judging people based on the things that make them different from us. Instead of condemning people for pointing out our flaws we need to thank them and think about how we can correct them. We are an imperfect nation but we have such great potential. It is up to us to figure out how to realize it.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article.



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

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