Someone emailed me a link to this article in which a white South African gives his views on Obama.
A racial divide, once lived, dwells in the deepest parts of the psyche. This is what was captured by Barack Obamaâs pitch-perfect speech on race. Slavery was indeed Americaâs âoriginal sin.â? Of course, âthe brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crowâ? lives on in forms of African-American humiliation and anger that smolder in ways incommunicable to whites.
It takes bravery, and perhaps an unusual black-white vantage point, to navigate these places where hurt is profound, incomprehension the rule, just as it takes courage to say, as Obama did, that black âanger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.â?
Progress, since the Civil Rights Movement, or since apartheid, has assuaged the wounds of race but not closed them. To carry my part of shame is also to carry a clue to the vortexes of rancor for which Obama has uncovered words.
I understand the rage of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, however abhorrent its expression at times. I admire Obama for saying: âI can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.â?
Honesty feels heady right now. For seven years, we have lived with the arid, us-against-them formulas of Bushâs menial mind, with the result that the nuanced exploration of Americaâs hardest subject is almost giddying. Can it be that a human being, like Wright, or like Obamaâs grandmother, is actually inhabited by ambiguities? Can an inquiring mind actually explore the half-shades of truth?
Yes. It. Can.
The unimaginable South African transition that Nelson Mandela made possible is a reminder that leadership matters. Words matter. The clamoring now in the United States for a presidency that uplifts rather than demeans is a reflection of the intellectual desert of the Bush years.
Like countless others, I came to America because possibility is broader here than in Europeâs narrower confines. Perhaps itâs my African âoriginal sin,â? but when Obama says he âwill never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible,â? I feel fear slipping away, like a shadow receding before the still riveting idea that âout of many we are truly one.â?