Boston.com blogger Francie Latour uses President Barack Obama's poignant remarks on Friday about the brutal death of Trayvon Martin as a much-needed jumping-off point for an important conversation about race in America.
“We can tackle race only as spectacle,” the candidate and then-Senator Barack Obama said exactly four years ago this week, riveting the nation from a Philadelphia podium as he delivered a historic, campaign-saving speech on race. “[We can tackle it] in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina. Or as fodder for the nightly news.”
Distant memories, indeed, those days when Obama would stand before a microphone and confront the raw complexities of race head on. In 2008, having stitched his loving, bigoted white grandmother and his loving, bigoted black pastor together in a single American tapestry, he was outlining the reflexes — spasms, really — that often result when matters of race explode onto the national scene. And he was offering another option.
Race — the colossal weight of it, its divisive, detonating nature — was not something the country could go on ignoring, Obama said then. The only way out of it — the only way — was to go much, much further into it. “The issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks," he argued, "reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through — a part of our union that we have yet to perfect.” His speech lasted for 37 minutes.
Read Francie Latour's entire blog entry at Boston.com.