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That is the final line of The black president no longer by Eugene Robinson in today's Washington Post

I am going to strongly recommend that you take the time to read it.

It begins like this:

President Barack Hussein Obama’s second inauguration was every bit as historic as his first — not because it said so much about the nation’s long, bitter, unfinished struggle with issues of race, as was the case four years ago, but because it said so little about the subject.

Reflect for a moment: A black man stood on the Capitol steps and took the oath of office as president of the United States. For the second time. Meaning that not only did voters elect him once — which could be a fluke, a blip, an aberration, a cosmic accident — but then turned around and did it again.

Yes, I know that the President's black skin is still the basis of much of the hatred spewed against him by extremists.  Robinson is certainly aware of that.  His point is different - that our primary discussion about the speech is about its content, not the skin color of the man making it.

Please keep reading.

There is much more to this column, and I neither want to violate fair use nor do I wish to do anything except encourage you to read it.

There is one more paragraph which I want to quote in its entirety.

The setting -  Robinson is describing the First Family crossing Pennsylvania Avenue to ente St. John's Episcopal Church.  He says the pictures " were charming but unexceptional — and almost made me cry."

And then he offers this remarkable paragraph:  

I have always believed that those quotidian pictures of family life are one of the most important legacies of the Obama presidency. For most people, visual information is uniquely powerful. What we see has more impact than what we hear. Pictures of an African American family enveloped by Secret Service protection, ferried down Pennsylvania Avenue in armored limousines, returning at night to sleep in the grand residence of the nation’s head of state — these images show us something new about what is possible, something new about ourselves.
My nephew has a Black wife, and two charming daughters my great-nieces, who like the President are half-black, but in the eyes of most Americans simply Black.  That they are able to see as normal "an African American family enveloped by Secret Service protection" is something of a testimony to how far we have come as a family.  The protection is because of the high office held by the man, an office that certainly has led to many threats.  In my younger days the Blacks I saw protected by police were solely because of threats against them because they were "uppity" and threatening a settled order which considered them lesser creatures.  In fact, armed security personnel were far more likely to be taking Blacks into custody rather than to be protecting them, and it could be children as well as adults -  think Birmingham.

We certainly should not be oblivious to the racial animus that is still too much a part of American society.

We should not let that animus blind us to the progress we have seen.

For better or worse there is a Black Senator from South Carolina.  No, he was not elected, but he is a conservative Republican.  That actually represents some progress.

The first Black in the Cabinet was not until Lyndon Johnson.   Now we have had two Black Secretaries of the State and a Black Attorney General, as well as blacks in many other high appointive positions.

We have seen an African-American man chosen by his peers for leadership among the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

We have had a Black governor of a former Confederate state, Virginia, in Doug Wilder, and now a Black governor of a state with a relatively small African-American population, Massachusetts, in Deval Patrick.

And the nation has twice elected Barack Hussein Obama President of these United States, each time with more than 330 electoral votes and more than 51% of the popular vote.  In my lifetime, born in 1946, the only man to have achieved that was Dwight Eisenhower.

Please read and reflect on what Eugene Robinson offers us today.



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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:12:03 AM PST

  •  For all that we have a long ways to go, (7+ / 0-)

    there have been remarkable changes in our society over the past several decades.  At this stage, a remarkable person, of almost any background, can generally find a route to respectability and success in our society.  That doesn't mean that there won't be some who will refuse to accept a person for who they are rather than what they are, but much progress has been made.  What I am hoping to see is a world in which an ordinary person who makes an effort has both the opportunity to play a productive role in society that is well suited to their abilities, and reasonable compensation and social respectability for having done so.

  •  I am so proud to have been (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, glorificus, SilentBrook

    a participant in, and witness to, this remarkable period of time in our political and cultural history.  Eugene Robinson is one of my favorite pundits, and his column is spot on as usual.  He wasn't the only one getting misty eyed watching the events unfold yesterday.  Joyful day!

    Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    by Ellen Columbo on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:07:45 AM PST

  •  I always wondered about the haters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, glorificus

    did they hate him becasue he was half white or becasue he was half black?

    I someone hates him for his politics - fine - but not for the color of his skin or the perceived color of his skin.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:11:34 AM PST

    •  they hated him because he was all Democratic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, glorificus, SilentBrook

      they would not have hated a black Republicon as much.

      It's all about whether the ideology matches the propaganda they have been swallowing.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:03:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's a deep well of feeling about race that has (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, glorificus, SilentBrook, a2nite

      been stirred by his Presidency. I'd say there are different levels of negativity or downright hate.
      However, it's really the religious right who has been throwing not just pebbles but cobbles and even boulders into the well, stirring up these feelings.

      They are the die-hard core of the gop, they are the ones who quickly latched onto the rebranding under the "tea party", they are the ones who insisted on absolute resistance to everything the President does, they are the ones who passed the transvaginal probe laws and other anti-women laws around the country, in a desperate attempt to get ahead of the trajectory of history, and they are the ones whose support for Romney was not sincere but desperate.
      They are also the ones who have sought to push the "2nd amendment resistance to the federal gov." meme and who have encouraged the "brandishing" of guns and the passage of open carry etc. laws.
      They've sought to co-opt all Christians in a battle against "the war on Christianity" and have cried "secret Muslim!" and "sharia law" the loudest.
      The stirring of racial tension has just been a part of their project.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:08:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For this of us that were (9+ / 0-)

    there yesterday, the notion that Obama is not a transformative President is hard to take seriously.

    The plane up from Tampa was half African American - full of families wearing T-shirts.  They were happy.  The people next to me were from Arkansas - we talked about Little Rock while waiting(getting to your seats was a LONG process).  

    HIs mere existence has been transformative for 15% of the population - and he did a great job yesterday of weaving that experience to other groups.

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:32:21 AM PST

    •  the abuse in VA State Senate is racial (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, SilentBrook, a2nite, elginblt

      one Senator was absent because he, as a black man, chose to attend to the Inauguration.

      That meant the Senators present were 20-19 Republican and the agreement that is supposed to govern was ignored and the Repubs slammed through a heavily partisan redistricting of the State Senate, wiping out what was previously agreed to, in order to push out one of the Democratic leaders.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 08:33:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Racism will never completely die (5+ / 0-)

    But like The Blob, we may be able to shrink it down to where we can put it in a box and keep it out of sight.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:49:42 AM PST

  •  it is beautiful in its naivete (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    he will always be the black president and the first black president no matter what he accomplishes.

    i'm not saying that is bad.  i'm just saying that the comment is as naive as the people who thought Obama's election was a sign of a post-racial America.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:01:34 AM PST

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