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Dear Mr. President,

I'm one of those Americans that lives in flyover country. I was treated to your much publicized 'teaching moment' last night and felt a response was warranted.

I'd like to say, with all respect, that this American resents the patronizing arrogance you exhibited as you deigned to 'teach America' about race. First off, I don't need lessons on race from you. I take my teachings from the Bible, not a man who sat through 20 years of 'hate whitey' sermons. I'd much prefer you bestow your teachable moments on, oh, say terrorists, or enemies of democracy.

Secondly, if you were genuinely interested in promoting racial healing, you might have used that teachable moment last night to address the third rail of race relations: namely, the reluctance of many blacks to look at whites without automatically assuming they are racists.

Last night, you had the perfect teachable moment, but, alas, you let it slip through your grasp. You had a wealthy, influential black man who continues to insist he is still oppressed. Then you had the white police officer who was merely doing his job in the correct manner. And then, we had you, Mr. President, a prime example of the problem. Said problem being the automatic assumption of racism without any facts to back it up.

You might have touched on the fact that many blacks of your generation have been taught that anything bad that happens in their life is a result of white oppression. You could have extrapolated or calibrated the fact that attitudes like that are extremely counterproductive and keep many blacks mired in the false comfort of victimization.

You might have addressed the fact that the only oppression happening these days is by your buddies Castro, Chavez and all the other third world dictators you seem to think are misunderstood men of good will.

Hey, you actually could have lectured your buddy Gates on the proper etiquette when dealing with law enforcement officers. Think of the great message that would have sent to young Americans. Respect for the law. That would have been a good thing to teach. But you let the opportunity pass with nary a word.

I'm sorry you didn't get a good soundbite or photo op out of this unrelenting media saga. I know you were envisioning a hearty three way handshake that could be flashed around the world, signifying absolutely nothing. But the evening wasn't a total waste. I actually did learn something.

I learned that you, and Henry Gates and other black men continue to believe that America is a racist country. I learned that you, Mr. President, will never solve any problems of race until you acknowledge your own racism against whites. I don't think that will happen in my lifetime but I will continue to 'hope' for 'change'.

And just out of curiosity, I was wondering what in the world you, the President of the greatest country in the world, is doing mediating the equivalent of a traffic ticket when our young men are dying in Afghanistan, our economy is in meltdown and Iran is on the brink of nuking Israel. Do you really think that was the best use of your time and political capital?

Tags: Obama, calibrate, racism

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If I were a cop I would arrest a white man for the exact same reasons I would arrest a black man or my own mother.
We are definately NOT born racists as Anthony said. It is a learned behavior. Before affirmative action legislation, the white MAN was one of priviledge. I believe we're still of priviledge. Is it getting closer to a more level playing field? I don't know. I do know that all of us, as individuals, regardless of color of skin, MUST make a conscious effort to look past skin color. Conscious being the key word, because it's a natural tendency to look at the color of one's skin first.
Pity? Not at all. I do think it is important to try to understand what it is like to be black in America. I think most of us have little idea how deep some of the scars really are.

There are those alive today, who recall first hand that it was perfectly acceptable to hang a black person from a lamppost. That it was perfectly acceptable to conduct an organized campaign of terror on the entire black community.

It takes time for society to get beyond the emotional damage created by these wide spread events of our recent past. It will also take a bit of understanding, recognizing that someone like the Professor in this case is most likely reacting out of a place of both rage and guilt, and willing to sacrifice a measure of personal security in an effort to focus attention on the issue.

And given that a black police officer was recently shot by a white officer while chasing a criminal, I think it is clear the Professor has a point.
I don't think whites have to "understand" what it's like to be black in America, we do need to recognize that blacks are faced with more of a challenge to get ahead in America. In order to truly understand someone, we need to walk a mile in his shoes. Zen and Pickle, you make some good points.
Consider this for a minute: You've heard of institutionalization - right? When someone is "wearhoused" for an extended period of time they get used to it, and it's difficult to readjust to another lifestyle later.

I think if we examine the population of freed slaves and the population of Irish immigrants to America who were arriving at that time, it will quickly become apparent that freed slaves were beginning their entry into American society several steps behind the Irish, simply because of the psychological effects of slavery.

That doesn't even begin to take into account the many and varied forms of outright terrorism inflicted over time and how they differ between these two groups.

And no one appears on national tv or in the print slamming the Irish on a regular basis, as you see with Beck or Dobbs or Rush. I mean, if we had an Irish president, they still wouldn't evoke fear on the basis of national heritage - if you get my point.

We have a long way to go.

Lets assume a couple of things, for the sake of argument:

a) crime is in part a result of poverty
b) minorities demographically share a smaller percentage of American wealth
c) movies and tv shows are in part reflective of social realities

If these three assumptions are accurate, then one should expect a higher percentage of criminals depicted in movies and tv shows as minority characters, and this has a consequence -

a) it becomes iconic
b) as iconography it will tend to reinforce the stereotype of minorities as criminals
c) which will in turn feed into and legitimize fears that underlie tendencies toward racism

What I'm saying is that reflections of social realities need not be racist and yet may perpetuate, or reinforce those tendencies toward racism, making it difficult to over come.

We need to bring a huge amount of consciousness to this particular issue to get past it.
Definately food for thought Zen. You may have the reason there but we may never have enough consciousness to get past this. Where would we begin bringing awareness? Schools, homelife, the president?
We may never have enough awareness, or we may have it soon. The only thing certain is that if we don't try, we will make no progress.
Hey, no-one said life was fair. Everyone has scars - everyone has emotional damage. Its a mark of character as to how one deals with life's setbacks. Unfortunately, Jackson and Sharpton have taught two generations of blacks that whitey is the enemy and therefore can only succeed by playing the race card. Shame on the race hustlers, and shame on Obama for reinforcing that stereotype the other night.
My 12 year old African American friend who spends time with my family has no idea who Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton are, but he understands very clearly when he and I go to garage sales and are ignored while other families are greeted heartily. He understands when we go to stores and we are followed by the staff there. He understands when we go to restaurants and we are seated in the farthest corners. He doesn't think of whites as the enemy, but he knows that just entering a room he has a lot to prove.

The fact that a white man with a felony conviction has a better chance of getting a job in this country than a black man without one tells me that we are not starting from an equal position. Nobody is asking whites to prove anything. It has very little to do with the racism of individuals, and an awful lot to do with the current structure of our society. Pretending there is not a problem won't make it true.
Very heartbreaking indeed. It broke my heart and pissed me off to witness discrimination to an adult let alone a 12 year old boy. I know it's a reality.
you are supposed to spend your life proving a negative - that you are not racist. Shelby Steele explains it very well.

The End Of White Guilt?
It's nice you have found a way to publicize your blog. I found it interesting to go back and look at the history of your past blogs. I must admit if nothing else I you seem to be consistent. Trust me consistent is the nicest word I could use.
I find "Right bias" to be accurate however "news" seems misplaced. Just my opinion, much as everything you have written is yours.




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