I do not believe that Barack Obama is my new bicycle. I believe he's a politician who will sell out as much and as little as Hillary has, given time. But I do think he's bringing something new to the national dialogue. In this case, it's a highly refreshing take on race: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords. (Since I've been traveling lately, I'm out of the media loop, so my apologies if this is sooo a week and a half ago. For some reason, the remote in my hotel seems to bypass CNN and land on The Real Housewives of New York City every night.)
Anyway, the speech is worth a read or a listen. Obama's refusal to disown anyone reminds me of my college Chicano lit professor's mantra that "We are all the oppressor, we are all the oppressed." (And yes, that's more literal when you're talking about mestizo lineage, but I think almost everyone has had a taste of both roles over the course of their lives.*) Most importantly, I appreciate that Obama refuses to let race be the swiftboat scandal of 2008--which would both exaggerate and belittle the role of race in America--and instead uses the occasion of other people's stupid comments as an opportunity to explain the true and complex components of race: history, class, fear, opportunism.
I think many politicians would back away from the issue as quickly as possible with a simplistic, angry let's-kill-all-the-racists speech or a simplistic, feel-good let's-all-get-along speech. Obama took on a challenge, and asks us to do the same. I just hope we're up for it.
*With the possible exception of the real housewives of New York City. There's a good chance they are 100 percent oppressor.