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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Racial politics is local

If you haven't been paying attention, there is a racial divide that is brewing in the Democratic party. It is shameful. Bill Clinton piled on what the Clinton campaign chief started - race war on Sen. Obama. Notice how silent our former President was after South Carolina. But in today's New York Times, Frank Rich writes a right on target op-ed piece. Please read it for yourself: Link

The Obama campaign has its own response to racial divides through the Yes We Can video that is on the web everywhere. has brilliantly put to music what will be remembered as a great speech by modern politician that speaks to our racial divide in a way that all of us can embrace. The video is available on this blog.

I just read an article in my local newspaper about a security guard at a store that ran out into the street after a shoplifter who grabbed a package of batteries. He chased the suspect for two blocks. What happened next is anyone's guess. But the suspect had a knife and stabbed the security guard. The security guard shot and killed the shoplifter. What a horrible tragedy, whichever way you look at it. The pages and pages of comments on the newspaper website in reaction to the event provoked racists, law and order types with no tolerance, liberal redemptors, black resistance, white fear, and a general cacophony of people talking past each other - each convinced that their POV should prevail.

Yes. We. Can. is a message of hope. We can get past a horrible and needless incident like this shoplifter shooting. We can find a way to deal with race in this country that doesn't point fingers at those who are discriminated against and those who do the discriminating. We can start at the national level and let the conversation trickle down to every corner of our country to allow us to have a discussion on race that is real, productive, and transforming.

My friend that is running for local office had a wild day on the campaign trail yesterday. In the morning he was quizzed by a white guy who was convinced that my friend was nothing but a black stooge, who would be used by the entrenched black politicians in our very divided city. By the end of the event and the dynamic conversation that my friend - the candidate- constructed, the guy from the audience became a supporter. Later that day, my friend had the opportunity to meet up with a large group of high school and middle school kids that he has worked with in various settings such as Anytown - a racial justice and equity program. These kids get the conversation. They love it. Black and white parents that accompanied some of them (to oversee their precious one's interactions and well-being) were stunned at the open and candid interactions of the kids. The adults all learned something.

We desperately need a national dialogue on race and the Obama campaign is giving us what we need. But it will not be as effective as it needs to be unless we have vehicles to continue the conversation locally. Be part of that conversation. Transform the dialogue in your town. We all have to take responsibility to make this happen and it is essential that it happen.
Yes. We. Can.

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