Everything is Fine

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said to the New York Times on March 27, 2008, that the United States still has trouble dealing with race because of a national “birth defect” that has denied African-Americans the opportunities given to whites at the country’s very founding:

“Black Americans were a founding population,” she said. “Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together — Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That’s not a very pretty reality of our founding.”

As a result, Miss Rice told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, “descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that.”

Condoleeza Rice did not say anything derogatory. She merely attempted to speak candidly about an extremely sensitive topic in America and it’s roots. She is a American who serves her country, putting her life on the line almost on a weekly basis for the nation she loves. Her words are the beginning of a intelligent conversation that must take place. However, constructive conversation requires the use of the spoken word, the objective use of the sense of hearing, an attempt to understand what is being said (recognition), and finally a response – verbal or silent – void of patronizing and degrading verbage Right? Maybe not. Maybe America is still not ready for this conversation. CNN anchor Louis Carl Dobbs, responded to the Secretary of State’s words. He said America had no problem talking about race issues, only a fear of facing recrimination and distortion for doing so. I would agree with Mr. Dobbs about the fear factor in race discussion, but he goes on to call people that feel the way Ms. Rice does “idiots.” He mentions America’s unique racial and ethnic diversity as an indication that there is no race problem, but then goes on to almost call Conoleeza Rice, and people who think like her (Black Americans), “cotton pickers.” He caught himself just in time, but the message was sent: The Secretary of State can not begin to have a conversation about race in America without facing “recrimination” and “distortion.” So, are we ready to talk? Not until we can make an attempt to empathize with each other, not tear each other down for saying how we feel. Condoleeza merely stated the facts in the gentlest way possible, and in doing so touched upon what is apparently a very sensitive spot with some white Americans.

Why can’t we do this? Why can’t black and white Americans bridge this gap? Why can’t we hear each other? I believe that whether blacks and whites believe it or not, we each represent the opposite ends of a vast racial spectrum. Our divide is a sea of cultural differences, principalities, wounds both physical and emotional, which are raging. All ships of exploration up to this point – however heroic – have been feld by a fierce resistance. Yet we hold the keys. Only we can calm the waters, making them safe for would be explorers. We crossed the Atlantic together, one group by choice, the other by chains, and built this great nation together. But the journey is not over. There is another sea to cross, another frontier to explore, and only we can blaze the way to a new tomorrow founded upon empathy and understanding. And when we do this we will be complete.

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~ by rimofheaven on April 2, 2008.

One Response to “Everything is Fine”

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