Sunday, October 05, 2008

Important Speech on an Important Topic

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka speaking - I'm not sure where or to whom - on the role of racism in the 2008 election. I think this is an important speech and topic. I haven't heard it discussed much. Like the alcoholic family's "elephant in the livingroom," it is there, though. I thought this was an excellent speech. I hope it gets more coverage and discussion. No doubt it won't.

14 comments:

Dianne said...

I got chills when he described his conversation with the Hillary supporter.

"I just don't trust him" - it is the code word.

I love this guy!

Robert said...

You don't hear it discussed much because it's not the issue it once was. Just look who your candidate is. Look who he ran against to get there. Aren't these signs of progress? Sure there are still people who are racist, and sexist, and _____ (fill in the blank). The speaker makes a great point: It would be a shame to not vote for Obama because of the color of his skin. I'd add it would be equally a shame to vote for him because of the color of his skin as well. I don't care what color or gender my president is. I vote issues. Obama does not does not support the issues in which I favor. I would certainly hope no one would think me a racist because he is not getting my vote. But if McCain wins listen to the talk after the election. I'd hope to be wrong, but I'm guessing there will be lots of talk about racism being the reason Obama didn't win.

Raven said...

Hi dianne - I'm afraid that there's a lot of that out there. I think I mentioned my neighbor who is voting for McCain because even though he likes Obama, he fears that if he were to be assassinated there would be riots. Sigh.

robert - I agree that the country has come a long way. That we have a black candidate who is running so well on his policies and not his blackness speaks volumes about how much progress we have made as a nation. Most racism is the closet kind of people like my neighbor who I mentioned in my repsonse to dianne. The Muslim rumors, the terrorism links, the coverage of his pastor - are all part of a kind of low-key "code" racism, though... Else why have we had so little coverage of the demented pastors of both McCain and Palin? You're a right wing Republican. Of course race has nothing to do with your decision. Unfortunately, I think, there are too many in this country who will cite things like "he's a muslim," or some other lie because it's a way to appease their closet racism without actually owning it. Covert racism is one of the reasons McCain and Palin have started trying out things like accusing Obama of being a terrorist. I don't think they would have tried that if he were white and I don't think it would have ANY traction if he were white. Racism doesn't have to be in your face to be operating.

I'm sure there are many racist Republicans out there too for whom race is an issue as well, but since they are Republican they can ignore it. We've come a long way but we aren't cured. Whether Obama wins or loses, these are things that SHOULD be talked about.

anna said...

I grew up poor in the Bronx. My parents were fearful and ignorant about the people who lived next door to us. Their racist statements were woven into the family rubric. I think in retrospect it was some kind of perverted attempt to make themselves feel better about who they were in the face of the daily indignities and humiliation that abject poverty inflicted on our family. My parents were concentration camp survivors and should have known better. Growing up, I was often puzzled as to why they intentionally separated themselves from their neighbors who seemed to share the same grimy fate that they were assigned.

We now know that melanin is a superficial and unreliable marker for race. Nontheless the visibility of this trait makes it a convenient vehicle with which to exploit peoples' insecurities and aspirations. Both race and class have been manipulated to maintain the power structure that keeps 99% of us down.

Racism is complex and deep. I'm glad we are talking about it.

Raven said...

Hi anna - thanks for your thoughtful comment. In my family my mother told me stories about her father's racism. He was uneducated and desperately poor and he pretty much hated everyone... unless he knew them in which case they were "exceptions." An example from my own childhood about how subtle and pervasive the things that form our racial attitudes... when I was about 8, my brother had a foreign exchange student come from India. I was very reluctant to go to the airport to pick him up and nobody could figure out why. In the end we discovered that my idea of who he would be was a half naked person like Sabu or the Tarzan movies and that was frightening to me.

I wish I knew how to get a good discussion on racism going here. I think it would be a good thing. Maybe I'll see if there's a way to create a meme on that topic. Hmmm.

Shrijnana said...

Excellent video, thank you for posting it. Some other ways race factors into the election:

- If it were Barack Obama's not-yet-wed teenage daughter that was pregnant, would her keeping the baby be talked about as a celebration of family values? If the father of this baby were a barely literate, teenage black male, would he be invited onto the stage at any party's national convention to shake the hand of the presidential candidate?

- Many terrorists have been white Christians, just like John McCain (Timothy McVeigh, the IRA, for example.). Yet no one even thinks about drawing that connection. Yet the connection is just as absurd as speaking about Obama in these terms.

- Would an ill-experienced, inadequately educated, vernacular speaking black woman become a vice-presidential nominee?

Oh, I could go on, but time to go to work!

Raven said...

shrijnana - it's so frustrating isn't it? I really feel like I live in the twilight zone sometimes. I continue to be very concerned about the Diebolt machines and another stolen election. It baffles me that the race is even close.

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