One of my colleagues (Adolph Reed) called Obama’s speech The Philadelphia Compromise, tying it to Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise. One of my friends argued that he gave a “placating speech.”
I’d like to see Reed’s reasoning in full.
But I could make the claim that just like Washington, Obama purposely ignored the contemporary structural problems that have us in the situation we’re in now. And in talking about “race” rather than “racism” and “understanding” as opposed to “politics” he moves us towards “unity” rather than structural change.
When I heard Obama’s speech yesterday I felt it was the best campaign speech I’ve heard delivered. I still think it represents a powerful template upon which other candidates can build upon. But when I read this interview it gave me pause.
What I don’t like about Obama and Harold Ford and other black candidates who seek high office and have to rely on white voters to do so, is the way they every now and then throw black people under the bus. I remember when Harold Ford made it a point to criticize the move towards Ebonics in Oakland without prompting AND without seeking to understand the nuts and bolts of the issue.
When Obama mentions his distaste for the “black community’s” behavior in the OJ verdict, unprompted, it upset me. You’d be hard pressed to find a case that concludes in a guilty verdict where the police are caught redhanded lying on the stand. Obama, unprompted, was either saying he disagreed with the verdict black jurors rendered or with the elation some black people evinced when they heard the verdict.
In either case this places him on the wrong side of the law. The wrong side of history. The wrong side of white supremacy.He’s got a tough road ahead, granted. And I appreciated the way he made the interviewer realize how looking for white analogues to Wright’s speech are simply impossible. But my high is now gone. And while I’m not quite back to square one, I’m closer than I was at 1pm yesterday.