Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thoughts While (and after) Watching President Obama’s Speech

Watching President Obama deliver his thoughtful remarks regarding racial relations and the Trayvon Martin killing, I had several reactions: 
1. I was proud that the United States had finally progressed to the point that a mixed-blood black man could hold its highest office; proud that the nation had re-elected him despite the unremitting attacks on his character and policies throughout his campaign for the presidency and his first term in office. 
2. I was thankful that I had not allowed the smears and slanders directed against Barack Obama by those who profess to be my fellow believers in righteousness to deter me from voting for him as I had done in 1960 during the equally fractious election of John Kennedy. 
3. I wondered if a black man in President Obama’s position can forget his blackness as a white man could, and almost always does, forget his whiteness, or if in every interaction with the white members of his team, and the white leaders of Congress, he is subtly conscious that, though President of the United States, he is nonetheless viewed and treated differently than a white man in his position would be. 
4. I wondered if he has seen the vicious e-mail attacks on his character that come to my mailbox on a regular basis, sent and perhaps originated by those who profess to be followers of the One who said, “I am the way the truth and the life,” or if he has read the unbridled and uncensored, racially laden, Internet attacks that question his legitimacy on every level. I wondered if he listens to the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks and the Fox “News” hate mongers who daily rail against him. 
5. I wondered how he maintains his Christian faith when a large share of the Christian community – nearly all of the Fundamentalist/Evangelical community – has devoted itself to denigrating him as a person, as a believer, and as a politician. 
6. I wondered if it tears at his heart to know that, though he has two beautiful daughters who, by virtue of what he has accomplished, will have advantages that few black or white girls will ever have, they will nonetheless still have to navigate the world as “black women” rather than simply women. 
7. I wondered what percentage of Americans would find in his remarks even more reason to hate him; more justification for their vitriolic attacks on him. 
8. I wondered if those of my Christian friends whom I’ve heard say that they “wished he were dead” –  that they “want to swear” every time they think of him – are among those who are already decrying his remarks. 
9. But I also wondered if he knows how many thousands of people, of all racial groups, and all religious persuasions, heard his remarks, thanked God for them, and committed themselves to pray for him and the success of his work to make of our country “a more perfect union.”

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